Mercury-Redstone 3

Mercury-Redstone 3, or Freedom 7, was the first United States human spaceflight, on May 5, 1961, piloted by astronaut Alan Shepard. It was the first manned flight of Project Mercury, the objective of which was to put an astronaut into orbit around the Earth and return him safely. Shepard's mission was a 15-minute suborbital flight with the primary objective of demonstrating his ability to withstand the high g-forces of launch and atmospheric re-entry.

Shepard named his space capsule Freedom 7, setting a precedent for the remaining six Mercury astronauts naming their spacecraft. The number 7 was included in all the manned Mercury spacecraft names to honor NASA's first group of seven astronauts. His spacecraft reached an altitude of 101.2 nautical miles (116.5 statute miles, 187.5 km) and traveled a downrange distance of 263.1 nautical miles (302.8 statute miles, 487.3 km). It was the fourth Mercury flight launched with the Mercury-Redstone Launch Vehicle,[Note 1] from Cape Canaveral, Florida, close to the Atlantic Ocean.

During the flight, Shepard observed the Earth and tested the capsule's attitude control system, turning the capsule around to face its blunt heat shield forward for atmospheric re-entry. He also tested the retrorockets which would return later missions from orbit, though the capsule did not have enough energy to remain in orbit. After re-entry, the capsule landed by parachute on the North Atlantic Ocean off the Bahamas. Shepard and the capsule were picked up by helicopter and brought to U.S. Navy aircraft carrier USS Lake Champlain.

The mission was a technical success, though American pride in the accomplishment was dampened by the fact that just three weeks before, the Soviet Union had launched the first man in space, Yuri Gagarin, who completed one orbit on Vostok 1. In 2017 the first National Astronaut Day was held on May 5 to pay tribute to this first flight.

Mercury-Redstone 3
Alan Shepard during Mercury-Redstone 3
Still frame of Alan Shepard taken by a motion picture camera aboard Freedom 7
Mission typeTest flight
Mission duration15 minutes, 22 seconds[1]
Range263.1 nautical miles (302.8 statute miles, 487.3 km)
Apogee101.2 nautical miles (116.5 statute miles, 187.5 km)
Spacecraft properties
SpacecraftMercury No.7
ManufacturerMcDonnell Aircraft
Launch mass4,040 pounds (1,830 kg)
Landing mass2,316 pounds (1,051 kg)
Crew size1
MembersAlan Shepard
CallsignFreedom 7
Start of mission
Launch dateMay 5, 1961, 14:34:13 UTC
RocketRedstone MRLV MR-7
Launch siteCape Canaveral LC-5
End of mission
Recovered byUSS Lake Champlain
Landing dateMay 5, 1961, 14:49:35 UTC
Landing siteNorth Atlantic Ocean
27°14′N 75°53′W / 27.23°N 75.88°W
Freedom 7 insignia

Spacecraft name as painted on the capsule side

Alan Bartlett Shepard, Jr.
Project Mercury
Manned missions


The Freedom 7 spacecraft, Mercury capsule #7, was delivered to Cape Canaveral on December 9, 1960. It had originally been expected that a mission could be launched soon after the spacecraft was available, but Capsule #7 turned out to require extensive development and testing work before it was deemed safe for flight. However, as it had been earmarked since the summer as the first manned spacecraft, the decision was taken to delay the mission until this particular capsule was ready, with a tentative launch date of March 6, rather than use an alternative capsule.[2] The booster originally intended for the flight, Redstone #3,[3] had been delivered to the Cape in early December;[4] however, it was then used on the MR-1A test flight on December 19.[5] The replacement, Redstone #7, did not arrive at the Cape until late March; by this time, however, the mission had already been postponed to await the results of another test flight.[6]

In late 1960, there had been a growing number of concerns about the standards of the Redstone launch vehicle; the MR-2 test flight, "manned" by a chimpanzee, had had technical problems during the launch leading to the spacecraft flying too high, too far and too fast.[7] As a result, the mission was two minutes longer than planned, and the re-entry subjected the passenger to 14.7g rather than the planned figure of approximately 12g. The splashdown point was sixty miles from the nearest recovery ship, and it was over two and a half hours before a helicopter could recover the capsule and its passenger – by which time it had almost sunk.[8] As a result, NASA was unwilling to launch the MR-3 mission without further development work; by late February, there were still seven major alterations they had made to the booster which required testing.[9] An additional testing flight was accordingly added to the schedule, MR-BD (for "Booster Development"; it was originally known as MR-2A). This would launch on March 28, pushing the MR-3 flight back a month to April 25.[10] The MR-BD flight was almost completely successful, ensuring that the manned MR-3 flight could proceed without further significant delay.[11]

The pilot for MR-3 had been chosen several months in advance, in early January, by the head of the program, Robert R. Gilruth. He had selected Alan Shepard as the primary pilot, with John Glenn and Gus Grissom as his backups; the other members of the Mercury Seven continued to train for later missions. The three names were announced to the press on February 22 without any indication as to which of the three was expected to fly the mission.[12] Shepard's name was only announced publicly after the initial launch attempt had been canceled, as Gilruth wished to keep his options open in the event that last-minute personnel changes were required.[13] Glenn served as Shepard's backup on launch day,[14] with Grissom focusing on training for MR-4, the next suborbital mission.[15]

The initial launch attempt, on May 2, was canceled due to weather problems two hours and 20 minutes before the launch time, with Shepard waiting in a hangar already suited and prepared. The flight was rescheduled for two days later, when it was delayed one more day due to inclement weather conditions, until 5 May, with an expected launch time of 7:20 am. EST.[Note 2][16]


The countdown began at 8:30 p.m. the previous night, with Shepard waking up and eating a breakfast of steak and eggs with toast, coffee, and orange juice (the steak and eggs breakfast would soon become a tradition for astronauts the morning of a launch). He entered the spacecraft at 5:15 am. ET, just over two hours before the planned 7:20 launch time. At 7:05 am, the launch was held for an hour to let cloud cover clear – good visibility would be essential for photographs of the Earth – and fix a power supply unit; shortly after the count restarted, another hold was called in order to reboot a computer at Goddard Space Flight Center. The count was eventually resumed, after slightly over two and a half hours of unplanned holds, and continued with no further faults.[17] All of the delays resulted in Shepard lying on his back in the capsule for almost three hours, by which point he complained to the blockhouse crew that he had a severe need to urinate (because the mission would last under 20 minutes, nobody had thought to equip the Mercury with a urine collection device). The crew told him that this was impossible as they'd have to set the White Room back up and waste considerable amounts of time removing the Mercury's heavily bolted hatch. An irate Shepard then announced that if he couldn't get out for a bathroom trip, he'd simply urinate in his suit. When the blockhouse protested that that would short out the medical electrodes on his body, he told them to simply turn the power off. They complied, and Shepard emptied his bladder. Because of the position he was sitting in, the urine pooled somewhat underneath his back and with oxygen flowing through the spacesuit, he was soon dried out, and the countdown resumed.[18]

Mercury-Redstone 3 Launch MSFC-6100884
Launch of MR-3 on May 5, 1961

Mercury-Redstone 3 finally lifted off at 9:34 am. ET, watched by an estimated 45 million television viewers in the United States.[19] Shepard was subjected to a maximum acceleration of 6.3g just before the Redstone engine shut down, two minutes and 22 seconds after launch. Freedom 7's space-fixed velocity was 5,134 miles per hour (8,262 km/h), close to the planned value. Ten seconds later, the escape tower was jettisoned. At the three-minute mark, the automated attitude control system rotated Freedom 7 so the heat shield faced forward ready for re-entry.[20]

Shepard was now able to take manual control of the spacecraft, and began testing whether he was able to adjust its orientation. The first thing he did was position the spacecraft to its retrofire attitude of 34 degrees pitch (nose of spacecraft pitched down 34 degrees). He then tested manual control of yaw, motion from left to right, and roll. When he took control of all three axes, he found that the spacecraft response was about the same as that of the Mercury simulator; however, he could not hear the jets firing, as he could on the ground, due to the levels of background noise.[21]

The secondary objective was to make observations of the ground from the spacecraft; returning the spacecraft to automatic control, Shepard found that he was able to distinguish major land masses from clouds easily, and could make out coastlines, islands and major lakes, but had difficulty identifying cities. He had problems working with the spacecraft periscope – early Mercury capsules had a small periscope rather than a viewing window – and had to abandon an attempt to change optical filters on it after noticing that a pressure gauge on his wrist kept bumping the lever that would have activated the Launch Escape System. Although the escape tower was long gone and pressing on the lever probably wouldn't do anything, Shepard still didn't want to risk it in case something unexpected happened.[22]

Under automatic control, the spacecraft had developed a slight movement as it passed through peak altitude; Shepard now switched into the "fly-by-wire" mode, where the pilot used a controller to order the automatic system to fire the rockets for the desired positioning, rather than manually controlling the individual jets. Adjusting roll and yaw, he found the pitch position was around ten degrees too shallow – 25 degrees rather than the desired 35 for reentry – and as he began to correct it, the timed retrorockets fired to send him into reentry. The retrorocket pack – strapped atop the heatshield and so requiring release before reentry – was successfully jettisoned, but the confirmation light failed, requiring Shepard to activate the manual override for the jettison system before it confirmed that the rockets were fully released.[23]

Shepard resumed fly-by-wire control after retrofire, reporting that it felt smooth and gave the sensation of being fully in command of the craft,[24] before letting the automatic systems briefly take over to reorient the capsule for reentry. He then kept control until the g-forces peaked at 11.6g during re-entry; he held the capsule until it had stabilized and then relinquished control to the automated system. The descent was faster than anticipated, but the parachutes deployed as planned, a drogue at 21,000 ft (6.4 km) and a main parachute at 10,000 ft (3.0 km).[25]

Splashdown occurred with an impact comparable to landing a jet aircraft on an aircraft carrier. Freedom 7 tilted over on its right side about 60 degrees from an upright position, but did not show any signs of leaking; it gently righted itself after a minute, and Shepard was able to report to the circling aircraft that he had landed safely and was ready to be recovered. A recovery helicopter arrived after a few minutes, and after a brief problem with the spacecraft antenna, the capsule was lifted partly out of the water in order to allow Shepard to leave by the main hatch. He squeezed out of the door and into a sling hoist, and was pulled into the helicopter, which flew both the astronaut and his spacecraft to a waiting aircraft carrier, USS Lake Champlain. The whole recovery process had taken only eleven minutes, from splashdown to arriving aboard.[26]

The flight lasted 15 minutes, 22 seconds and the spacecraft traveled 302 miles (486 km) from its launch point, ascending to 116.5 miles (187.5 km). Freedom 7 landed at these coordinates: 27°14′N 75°53′W / 27.23°N 75.88°W. It reached a speed of 5,180 mph (8,340 km/h).

Following the flight the spacecraft was examined by engineers and found to be in excellent shape, so much so that they decided it could have been safely used again in another launch. Given to the Smithsonian Institution by NASA, Freedom 7 was previously displayed at the U.S. Naval Academy in Annapolis, Maryland until 2012. Since 2012, it has been on display at the John F. Kennedy Library in Boston, Massachusetts.

Kennedy, Johnson, and others watching flight of Astronaut Shepard on television, 05 May 1961

President Kennedy watching the flight on TV together with the First Lady, Vice President Johnson and others

Alan Shepard in capsule aboard Freedom 7 before launch2

Alan Shepard in Freedom 7 spacecraft before launch

Mercury-Redstone 3 - Earth observation - S61-01918

Photo taken by 70 mm Earth-Sky Camera mounted on the spacecraft

Recovery of Alan B. Shepard

HUS-1 helicopter from USS Lake Champlain recovering Alan Shepard from the Freedom 7 capsule

Shepard on Deck of Champlain after Recovery - GPN-2000-001362

Alan Shepard on the deck of the aircraft carrier USS Lake Champlain after recovery of Freedom 7

Freedom 7 U.S. Naval Academy

Freedom 7 on display at the U.S. Naval Academy, Annapolis, Maryland


Commemorative patch

Depiction in popular culture

In June 1961, Laurie Records issued a 45 rpm single featuring William Allen and Orchestra entitled "Space Flight Freedom 7." It consisted of recreations of the tower to astronaut communications spoken over an instrumental backing.

The Mercury-Redstone 3 mission was dramatized in Tom Wolfe's 1979 book The Right Stuff, Philip Kaufman's 1983 movie The Right Stuff based on the book (Scott Glenn plays Shepard), and in the HBO 1998 miniseries From the Earth to the Moon episode "Can We Do This?" (starring Ted Levine as Shepard).

Flight events

Time (mm:ss) Event Description[27]
00:00 Liftoff Mercury-Redstone lifts off, onboard clock starts.
00:16 Pitch Program Redstone pitches over 2 deg/s from 90 deg to 45 deg.
00:40 End Pitch Program Redstone reaches 45 deg pitch.
01:24 Max Q Maximum dynamic pressure ~575 lbf/ft² (28 kPa).
02:20 BECO Redstone engine shutdown – Booster Engine Cutoff. Velocity 5,200 mph (2.3 km/s)
02:22 Tower Jettison Escape Tower Jettison, no longer needed.
02:24 Spacecraft Separation Posigrade rockets fire for 1 s giving 15 ft/s (4.6 m/s) separation.
02:35 Turnaround Maneuver Spacecraft (ASCS) system rotates spacecraft 180 degrees, to heat shield forward attitude. Nose is pitched down 34 degrees to retro fire position.
05:00 Apogee Apogee of about 115 miles (185 km) reached at 150 miles (240 km) downrange from launch site.
05:15 Retrofire Three retro rockets fire for 10 seconds each. They are started at 5-second intervals, firing overlaps. 550 ft/s (170 m/s) is taken off forward velocity.
05:45 Retract Periscope Periscope is automatically retracted in preparation for reentry.
06:15 Retro Pack Jettison One minute after retrofire retro pack is jettisoned, leaving heat shield clear.
06:20 Retro Attitude Maneuver (ASCS) orients spacecraft in 34 degrees nose down pitch, 0 degrees roll, 0 degrees yaw.
07:15 0.05 g (0.5 m/s²) Maneuver (ASCS) detects beginning of reentry and rolls spacecraft at 10 deg/s to stabilize spacecraft during reentry.
09:38 Drogue Parachute Deploy Drogue parachute deployed at 22,000 ft (6.7 km) slowing descent to 365 ft/s (111 m/s) and stabilizing spacecraft.
09:45 Snorkel Deploy Fresh air snorkel deploys at 20,000 ft (6.1 km). (ECS) switches to emergency oxygen rate to cool cabin.
10:15 Main Parachute Deploy Main parachute deploys at 10,000 ft (3.0 km). Descent rate slows to 30 ft/s (9.1 m/s)
10:20 Landing Bag Deploy Landing bag deploys, dropping heat shield down 4 ft (1.2 m).
10:20 Fuel Dump Remaining hydrogen peroxide fuel automatically dumped.
15:22 Splashdown Spacecraft lands in water about 300 mi (480 km) downrange from launch site.
15:30 Rescue Aids Deploy Rescue aid package deployed. The package includes green dye marker, recovery radio beacon and whip antenna.

See also



  1. ^ The previous three Mercury-Redstone flights were the unmanned Mercury-Redstone 1A, Mercury-Redstone 2 (which carried a chimpanzee), and Mercury-Redstone BD, an unmanned flight with a "boilerplate" (non-production) Mercury capsule.
  2. ^ All local times quoted here are in Eastern Standard Time, as Florida did not observe daylight saving time until 1966.


  1. ^ Swenson Jr., Loyd S.; Grimwood, James M.; Alexander, Charles C. (1989). "11-1 Suborbital Flights into Space". In Woods, David; Gamble, Chris (eds.). This New Ocean: A History of Project Mercury (url). Published as NASA Special Publication-4201 in the NASA History Series. NASA. Retrieved August 15, 2017.
  2. ^ This New Ocean, p. 342
  3. ^ This New Ocean, p. 342
  4. ^ Grimwood, p. 118
  5. ^ Grimwood, p. 119
  6. ^ Grimwood, p. 129
  7. ^ This New Ocean, p. 315
  8. ^ This New Ocean, p. 316
  9. ^ This New Ocean, pp. 323–4
  10. ^ This New Ocean, p. 324
  11. ^ This New Ocean, p. 330
  12. ^ This New Ocean, p. 342
  13. ^ This New Ocean, p. 350
  14. ^ This New Ocean, p. 351
  15. ^ This New Ocean, p. 365
  16. ^ This New Ocean, pp. 350–351
  17. ^ This New Ocean, pp. 351–352
  18. ^ Shepard, Jr., Alan B.; Slayton, Deke; Barbree, Jay; Benedict, Howard (1994). Moon Shot: The Inside Story of America's Race to the Moon (1 ed.). Kansas City, MO: Turner. p. 383. ISBN 1878685546.
  19. ^ This New Ocean, p. 341
  20. ^ This New Ocean, p. 353
  21. ^ This New Ocean, p. 353
  22. ^ This New Ocean, pp. 353–5
  23. ^ This New Ocean, p. 355
  24. ^ This New Ocean, p. 355
  25. ^ This New Ocean, p. 356
  26. ^ This New Ocean, pp. 356–7
  27. ^ Hammack 1961, pp. 73–77.


External links

1961 in the United States

Events from the year 1961 in the United States.

Cape Canaveral Air Force Station Launch Complex 5

Launch Complex 5 (LC-5) was a launch site at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Florida used for various Redstone and Jupiter launches.

It is most well known as the launch site for NASA's 1961 suborbital Mercury-Redstone 3 flight, which made Alan Shepard the first American in space. It was also the launch site of Gus Grissom’s Mercury-Redstone 4 flight. The Mercury-Redstone 1 pad abort, Mercury-Redstone 1A, and Mercury-Redstone 2, with chimpanzee Ham aboard, also used LC-5.

A total of 23 launches were conducted from LC-5: one Jupiter-A, six Jupiter IRBMs, one Jupiter-C, four Juno Is, four Juno IIs and seven Redstones. The first launch from the complex was a Jupiter-A on July 19, 1956 and the final launch was Gus Grissom's Liberty Bell 7 capsule on July 21, 1961.LC-5 is located next to the Air Force Space & Missile Museum. The original consoles used to launch the Mercury-Redstone rockets are on display in the blockhouse. As of 2011 a tour of the blockhouse (and the museum) can be arranged through the Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex's "Cape Canaveral: Then and Now" tour. One tour is offered daily, so the number of visitors is limited by the size of the tour.

List of United States Navy people

This page contains a list of notable officers and sailors of the U.S. Navy.

List of aircraft carrier classes of the United States Navy

On November 14, 1910, pilot Eugene Burton Ely took off in a Curtiss plane from the bow of Birmingham and later landed a Curtiss Model D on Pennsylvania on 18 January 1911. In fiscal year (FY) 1920, Congress approved a conversion of collier Jupiter into a ship designed for launching and recovering of airplanes at sea—the first aircraft carrier of the United States Navy. More aircraft carriers were approved and built, including Ranger, the first class of aircraft carriers in the United States Navy designed and built as aircraft carriers from the keel.

The United States declared war on Japan following the attack of 7 December 1941 on Pearl Harbor. The two nations revolutionized naval warfare in the course of the next four years; several of the most important sea battles were fought without either fleet coming within sight of the other. Most of the fleet carriers were built according to prewar designs, but the demand for air protection was so intense that two new classes were developed: light carriers (designated CVL), built on modified cruiser hulls, and escort carriers (CVE), whose main function was to protect Atlantic convoys from German U-boats.

During the postwar period, carrier technology made many advances. The angled flight deck was adopted in 1955. The first "supercarrier" was commissioned in 1955 (although an earlier plan had been canceled by the Secretary of Defense), and the first nuclear-powered carrier in 1961, all during the Cold War. Also, a record for crossing the Pacific Ocean was set by a U.S. Navy carrier during the Korean War. Carriers recovered spacecraft after splashdown, including the Mercury-Redstone 3 and Apollo 11 missions.

The lead ship of a new class, the Gerald R. Ford class, was launched in 2013 and was commissioned in 2017. The last conventionally powered (non-nuclear) carrier was decommissioned.

List of crewed spacecraft

This is a list of crewed spacecraft types, including space stations, sorted by status in chronological order.

List of human spaceflights

This is a list of all human spaceflights throughout history. Beginning in 1961 with the flight of Yuri Gagarin aboard Vostok 1, human spaceflight occurs when a human crew flies a spacecraft into outer space. Human spaceflight is distinguished from spaceflight generally, which entails both crewed and uncrewed spacecraft.

There are two definitions of spaceflight. The Fédération Aéronautique Internationale (FAI), an international record-keeping body, defines the boundary between Earth's atmosphere and outer space at 100 kilometers above sea level. This boundary is known as the Kármán line. Additionally, the United States military awards astronaut wings to qualified personnel who pilot a spaceflight above an altitude of 50 miles (80 km). Thirteen flights of the North American X-15 met the latter criteria, while only two met the former. This article is primarily concerned with the former international convention, and also lists flights which only satisfied the latter convention. Unless otherwise specified, "spaceflight" and related terms only apply to flights which went beyond the Kármán line.

As of the launch of Soyuz MS-12 on 14 March 2019, there have been 325 human spaceflight launch attempts, including three failed attempts which did not cross the Kármán line. These were the fatal Challenger disaster, and two non-fatal aborted Soyuz missions, T-10a and MS-10. Another non-fatal aborted Soyuz mission, 18a, nevertheless crossed the Kármán line and therefore qualified as a sub-orbital spaceflight. Three missions successfully achieved human spaceflight, yet ended as fatal failures as their crews died during the return. These were Soyuz 1, Soyuz 11, and the Columbia disaster. Uniquely, Soyuz 34 was launched uncrewed to the Salyut 6 space station, to provide a successful return vehicle for the crew of Soyuz 32. Including Soyuz 34 gives a total of 326 attempted human spaceflights. 14 flights reached an apogee beyond 50 miles, but failed to go beyond 100 kilometers.

List of spaceflight records

This is a list of spaceflight records. Most of these records relate to human spaceflights, but some unmanned and animal records are listed as well.


MR3 or MR-3 may refer to:

MegaRace 3, a 2002 video game

Mercury-Redstone 3, the first American human spaceflight

Monster Rancher 3, a 2001 video game

MR3 road, a major highway of Swaziland

Mercury-Atlas 10

Mercury-Atlas 10 (MA-10) was a cancelled early manned space mission, which would have been the last flight in NASA's Mercury program. It was planned as a three-day extended mission, to launch in late 1963; the spacecraft, Freedom 7-II, would have been flown by Alan Shepard, a veteran of the suborbital Mercury-Redstone 3 mission in 1961. However, it was cancelled after the success of the one-day Mercury-Atlas 9 mission in May 1963, to allow NASA to focus its efforts on the more advanced two-man Gemini program.

Mercury-Atlas 6

Mercury-Atlas 6 (MA-6) was the first American orbital spaceflight, which took place on February 20, 1962. Piloted by astronaut John Glenn and operated by NASA as part of Project Mercury, it was the fifth human spaceflight, preceded by Soviet orbital flights Vostok 1 and 2 and American sub-orbital flights Mercury-Redstone 3 and 4.The Mercury spacecraft, named Friendship 7, was carried to orbit by an Atlas LV-3B launch vehicle lifting off from Launch Complex 14 at Cape Canaveral, Florida. After three orbits, the spacecraft re-entered the Earth's atmosphere, splashed down in the North Atlantic Ocean, and was safely taken aboard USS Noa. Total mission flight time was four hours 55 minutes and 23 seconds.

The event was named an IEEE Milestone in 2011.

Mercury-Redstone BD

Mercury-Redstone BD was an unmanned booster development flight in the U.S. Mercury program. It was launched on March 24, 1961 from Launch Complex 5 at Cape Canaveral, Florida. The mission used a boilerplate Mercury spacecraft and Redstone MRLV-5.After the problems that developed during the MR-2 mission carrying the chimpanzee Ham, it was apparent that the Redstone needed further development before it could be trusted to carry a human passenger.

Dr. Wernher von Braun added Mercury-Redstone BD (Booster Development) to the launch schedule between the MR-2 and MR-3 missions. This went over the protests of some, including astronaut Alan Shepard, who argued that the problems on MR-2 had been quickly identified and easily fixed. Von Braun was adamant that the Redstone could not be considered man-rated until a completely perfect test flight and that the launch vehicle performance on MR-1A and MR-2 had not met acceptable standards for carrying a human passenger.

The cause of previous Redstone rocket over-accelerations was a servo valve that did not properly regulate the flow of hydrogen peroxide to the steam generator. This in turn overpowered the fuel pumps. The thrust regulator and velocity integrator were modified on the MR-BD and later Mercury-Redstone rockets to prevent them from exceeding the speed limit again. Other modifications were made to prevent engine cutoff from propellant depletion rather than a programmed signal, which had led to an inadvertent abort and LES activation on MR-2.

Another problem encountered in previous Mercury-Redstone flights were harmonic vibrations induced by aerodynamic stress in the topmost section of the elongated Redstone. To fix this problem, four stiffeners were added to the ballast section and 210 pounds (95 kg) of insulation was applied to the inner skin of the upper part of the Mercury Redstone instrument compartment.

The mission used a boilerplate Mercury spacecraft with an inert escape rocket. The spacecraft also did not have a retro package or posigrade rockets.

The MR-BD mission lasted eight minutes and 23 seconds. It reached an apogee of 113.5 miles (183 km) and a range of 307 miles (494 km). The peak velocity was 5,123 mph (8,245 km/h).

The spacecraft experienced a peak load of 11 g (108 m/s²). There was no intention to separate the Redstone rocket and boilerplate Mercury spacecraft and they impacted together 307 miles (494 km) downrange, 5 miles (8 km) short of the plan. They sank to the bottom of the Atlantic Ocean, exploding a sofar bomb en route. Booster performance was excellent other than some vibration issues in the adapter area.

MR-BD was highly successful and led the way to the flight of Alan Shepard aboard MR-3.

Mercury 3

Mercury 3 could refer to:

Mercury-Redstone 3, The first American manned (sub-orbital) spaceflight, made by astronaut Alan Shepard.

Mercury-Atlas 3, an unmanned test flight of the Atlas rocket and Mercury spacecraft.

Blackburn Mercury III, an early airplane

Bristol Mercury III, an aero-engine

Redstone (rocket family)

The Redstone rocket was named for the Redstone Arsenal in Huntsville, Alabama where it was developed. The Redstone family of rockets consisted of a number of American ballistic missiles, sounding rockets and expendable launch vehicles operational during the 1950s and 1960s. The first member of the Redstone family was the PGM-11 Redstone missile, from which all subsequent variations of the Redstone were derived. The Juno 1 version of the Redstone launched Explorer 1, the first U.S. orbital satellite in 1958 and the Mercury-Redstone variation carried the first two U.S. astronauts into space in 1961.

Redstone 3

Redstone 3 may refer to:

Mercury-Redstone 3, a 1961 spaceflight

Fall Creators Update, a 2017 update to Microsoft Windows

Robert R. Gilruth

Robert Rowe Gilruth (October 8, 1913 – August 17, 2000) was an American aerospace engineer and an aviation/space pioneer who was the first director of NASA's Manned Spacecraft Center, later renamed the Lyndon B. Johnson Space Center.He worked for the National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics from 1937 to 1958 and its successor NASA, until his retirement in 1973. He was involved with early research into supersonic flight and rocket-powered aircraft, and then with the United States manned space program, including the Mercury, Gemini, and Apollo programs.

Sub-orbital spaceflight

A sub-orbital spaceflight is a spaceflight in which the spacecraft reaches outer space, but its trajectory intersects the atmosphere or surface of the gravitating body from which it was launched, so that it will not complete one orbital revolution.

For example, the path of an object launched from Earth that reaches the Kármán line (at 100 km (62 mi) above sea level), and then falls back to Earth, is considered a sub-orbital spaceflight. Some sub-orbital flights have been undertaken to test spacecraft and launch vehicles later intended for orbital spaceflight. Other vehicles are specifically designed only for sub-orbital flight; examples include manned vehicles, such as the X-15 and SpaceShipOne, and unmanned ones, such as ICBMs and sounding rockets.

Flights which attain sufficient velocity to go into low Earth orbit, and then de-orbit before completing their first full orbit, are not considered sub-orbital. Examples of this include Yuri Gagarin's Vostok 1, and flights of the Fractional Orbital Bombardment System.

Usually a rocket is used, but experimental sub-orbital spaceflight has also been achieved with a space gun.

Timeline of Solar System exploration

This is a timeline of Solar System exploration ordered by date of spacecraft launch. It includes:

All spacecraft that have left Earth orbit for the purposes of Solar System exploration (or were launched with that intention but failed), including lunar probes.

A small number of pioneering or notable Earth-orbiting craft.It does not include:

Centuries of terrestrial telescopic observation.

The great majority of Earth-orbiting satellites.

Space probes leaving Earth orbit that are not concerned with Solar System exploration (such as space telescopes targeted at distant galaxies, cosmic background radiation observatories, and so on).

Probes that failed at launch.The dates listed are launch dates, but the achievements noted may have occurred some time later—in some cases, a considerable time later (for example, Voyager 2, launched 20 August 1977, did not reach Neptune until 1989).

Vostok 2

Vostok 2 (Russian: Восток-2, Orient 2 or East 2) was a Soviet space mission which carried cosmonaut Gherman Titov into orbit for a full day on August 6, 1961 to study the effects of a more prolonged period of weightlessness on the human body. Titov orbited the Earth over 17 times, exceeding the single orbit of Yuri Gagarin on Vostok 1 − as well as the suborbital spaceflights of American astronauts Alan Shepard and Gus Grissom aboard their respective Mercury-Redstone 3 and 4 missions. Indeed, Titov's number of orbits and flight time would not be surpassed by an American astronaut until Gordon Cooper's Mercury-Atlas 9 spaceflight in May 1963.

After the flight of Vostok 1, Sergei Korolev took a short vacation in Crimea where he began working out the flight plan for the next mission. There were considerable arguments over the duration of the mission as flight doctors argued for no more than three orbits. The flight of Korabl-Sputnik 2 nine months earlier had carried two dogs on a six orbit mission, during which the animals had experienced convulsions and thus all subsequent Vostok missions were limited to three orbits maximum. Although dogs and humans were very different physiologically, the doctors were worried about the risks posed on a longer flight. There was also the purely practical aspect of spacecraft recovery. If Vostok 2 flew three orbits, reentry and landing would take place in the wide open steppes of southern Russia, the landing site moving steadily further west with each orbit. Orbits 8-13 would drop the capsule into the Pacific Ocean, after which landing would again occur in Soviet territory, but in the remote, frozen wastes of Siberia. Thus, it was necessary to spend a full 24 hours in space before it would be once again possible to land in the prime recovery area in southern Russia. The three orbit limit thus would not only make landing easy, but minimize risks to the cosmonaut posed by prolonged weightlessness.

Korolev argued that since it would still take an entire day for landing in southern Russia to be possible again, there was no reason not to go for it. Besides, he argued, missions of the future would inevitably require lengthy stays in space. The flight was targeted for somewhere between July 25 and August 5. To ensure safe radiation levels, balloons equipped with Geiger counters were flown aloft, in addition similar equipment would be carried on Vostok 2. Several enhancements were made to Vostok 2, including an improved TV transmission system and better climate control systems.

Liftoff took place August 6 at 8:57 AM Moscow time and booster performance was almost flawless, placing the spacecraft into a 184x244 km orbit.

The flight was an almost complete success, marred only by a heater that had inadvertently been turned off prior to liftoff and that allowed the inside temperature to drop to 50 °F (10 °C), a bout of space sickness, and a troublesome re-entry when the reentry module failed to separate cleanly from its service module.Unlike Yuri Gagarin on Vostok 1, Titov took manual control of the spacecraft for a short while. Another change came when the Soviets admitted that Titov did not land with his spacecraft. Titov would claim in an interview that he ejected from his capsule as a test of an alternative landing system; it is now known that all Vostok program landings were performed this way.The re-entry capsule was destroyed during development of the Voskhod spacecraft.As of 2017, Titov remains the youngest person to reach space. He was a month short of 26 years old at launch.

Walter C. Williams

Walter C. Williams (July 30, 1919 – October 7, 1995) was an American engineer, leader of the National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics (NACA) group at Edwards Air Force Base in the 1940s and 1950s, and a NASA Deputy Associate Administrator during Project Mercury.

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