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Who Was Alan Shepard? (Grades K-4)

This article is for students grades K-4.

Alan Shepard was the first American in space. He was one of NASA’s first seven astronauts. He also walked on the moon.

Astronaut Alan Shepard smiles while wearing an all-silver pressure suit for the Mercury mission. He holds a white helmet in his hands.

What Was Shepard’s Early Life Like?

Alan Shepard was born on Nov. 18, 1923. He worked on a ship during World War II. After the war, Shepard went back to school. He became a test pilot. Test pilots try out new aircraft. The pilots make sure the airplanes are safe. In April 1959, Shepard became an astronaut.

What Happened on Alan Shepard’s First Spaceflight?

On May 5, 1961, Alan Shepard became the first American in space. He flew on a Mercury spacecraft. There was just enough room for one person. He named his capsule Freedom 7. It launched on a Redstone rocket. The Army first used the Redstone as a missile. On this flight, Shepard did not orbit Earth. He flew 116 miles high. Then he came back down. The flight lasted about 15 ½ minutes. The mission was a success.

What Happened on Alan Shepard’s Second Spaceflight?

Shepard’s second spaceflight was Apollo 14. This mission went to the moon. Shepard was the commander. Stuart Roosa and Edgar Mitchell were on Apollo 14, too. The Apollo spacecraft launched on a Saturn V rocket.

On Feb. 15, 1971, Shepard and Mitchell landed on the moon. Roosa stayed in the crew capsule. It stayed in orbit around the moon. Shepard and Mitchell went on two moonwalks. They collected more than 100 pounds of moon rocks. They did science experiments on the lunar surface. Shepard had some fun, too. He became the first person to hit a golf ball on the moon. It showed how far the ball would go in the moon’s lower gravity. So that was science, too.

Mercury Redstone rocket on launch pad

What Happened After Shepard’s Second Spaceflight?

Alan Shepard had flown on two space missions. He also worked as the head of the Astronaut Office. He left NASA in 1974. Shepard still worked to support space exploration. He also helped students. He died in 1998.

More About Alan Shepard

NASA Milestones – Freedom 7
Freedom 7
What Was Project Mercury?
What Was the Apollo Program?
What Was the Saturn V?

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