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President Kennedy Awards Alan Shepard NASA’s Distinguished Service Medal

President Kennedy Awards Alan Shepard NASA's Distinguished Service Medal
A U.S. Marine helicopter recovery team hoists astronaut Alan Shepard from his Mercury spacecraft after a successful flight and splashdown in the Atlantic Ocean.

On May 5, 1961, Alan Shepard – one of NASA’s first seven astronauts – became the first American in space.

In this image, President John F. Kennedy, right, awards NASA’s Distinguished Service Medal to astronaut Shepard in a Rose Garden ceremony on May 8, 1961, at the White House. In the background are the other members of the Mercury Seven, NASA’s original astronauts.

Shepard’s Freedom 7 Mercury capsule flew a suborbital trajectory lasting 15 minutes 22 seconds. His spacecraft landed in the Atlantic Ocean where he and his capsule were recovered by helicopter and transported to the awaiting aircraft carrier U.S.S. Lake Champlain.

View the Alan Shepard image gallery.

Image Credit: NASA