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Week of April 29, 2002

Alan B. Shepard became the First American in Space
on May 5, 1961!!!

This page celebrates his accomplishes as an Astronaut.

"Light this candle!" -- Alan Shepard in the book and movie, The Right Stuff. Shepard wanted the launch countdown to resume after waiting over four hours on May 5, 1961.

Launch of Alan Shepard & Freedom 7 on May 5, 1961

Alan Bartlett Shepard, Jr., was born on November 18, 1923, in East Derry, New Hampshire. Shepard graduated from the U.S. Naval Academy in Annapolis, served in the Pacific during World War II, and became a Navy test pilot. On April 9, 1959, NASA announced Shepard was one of the seven original astronauts chosen for Project Mercury. The other six Mercury astronauts are: Scott Carpenter, L. Gordon Cooper, Jr., John H. Glenn, Jr., Virgil I. "Gus" Grissom, Walter M. Schirra, Jr., and Donald K. "Deke" Slayton.

Mercury Seven

Did you know President John F. Kennedy awarded Shepard the NASA Distinguished Service Medal for his Mercury flight?

Did you know Shepard logged a total of 216 hours and 57 minutes in space? Yes, 9 hours and 17 minutes of which he spent on the surface of the moon.

Alan Shepard died on July 21, 1998, at the age of 74.

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Archives - Quote of the Week


Project Mercury (Out of This World)
Everything you need to know about Project Mercury! It discusses the beginning of the Space Age and Sputnik (the first artificial satellite launched by the Soviet Union), Mercury Seven (the first seven American astronauts), the six manned Mercury flights, and the successes following Project Mercury. You learn about each of the seven original astronauts as they are highlighted on a page titled, "Whatever Happened to..." Plus, the book includes an Easy-Reference Mercury Mission Facts Chart, a Concise Timeline, and a Helpful Glossary. Be sure to look at the diagram showing all the parts and equipment of the Mercury capsule. Other books in the "Out of This World" Series include Project Gemini, Project Apollo, and The History of NASA.

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Archives - Feature Book


Did you know Alan Shepard was the Commander of Apollo 14?

Yes. On January 31, 1971, Apollo 14 launched at 4:03 p.m. EST from Kennedy Space Center in Florida. Alan Shepard was the Commander, Edgar D. Mitchell was the Lunar Module Pilot, and Stuart A. Roosa was the Command Module Pilot. On February 5, Apollo 14 became the third lunar landing, and Shepard became the fifth person to walk on the moon. As he stepped onto the lunar surface, Shepard stated, "Al is on the surface, and it's been a long way, but we're here."

Did you know Alan Shepard hit two golf balls on the moon? He used a makeshift club, and he stated the second ball (due to the one-sixth gravity of the moon) traveled "miles and miles and miles."

Apollo 14 Quick Facts:
Command Service Module: Kitty Hawk
Lunar Module: Antares
Lunar Landing: February 5, 1971, at 4:18 a.m. EST
Landing Location: Fra Mauro
Lunar Lift Off: February 6, 1971, at 1:48 p.m. EST
Splash-down: February 9, 1971, at 4:05 p.m. EST
Splash-down Location: Pacific Ocean
Duration of Mission: 9 days, 1 minute, and 58 seconds

Alan Shepard on the Moon during Apollo 14

Did you know 12 people have walked on the moon. They are:
Apollo 11 (July 16 - 24, 1969)
1. Neil A. Armstrong (He was also the first person to walk on the moon)
2. Edwin "Buzz" Aldrin, Jr.

Apollo 12 (November 14 - 24, 1969)
3. Charles "Pete" Conrad, Jr.
4. Alan Bean

Apollo 14 (January 31 - February 9, 1971)
5. Alan B. Shepard, Jr. (He was also one of the original Mercury 7 astronauts)
6. Edgar D. Mitchell

Apollo 15 (July 26 - August 7, 1971)
7. David Scott (He was also the first to use the lunar rover)
8. James B. Irwin

Apollo 16 (April 16 - 27, 1972)
9. John Young (He was also the Commander of the first Space Shuttle flight)
10. Charles Duke, Jr.

Apollo 17 (December 7 - 19, 1972)
11. Eugene Cernan (He was also the last person to walk on the moon)
12. Harrison "Jack" Schmitt

Did you know James Lovell, Jr., and Fred Haise, Jr., were scheduled to walk on the moon on Apollo 13? However, a problem occurred with the Service Module oxygen tank, and the mission was aborted. Apollo 13 lifted off on April 11, 1970, and splashed-down in the Pacific Ocean on April 17.

Splash-down of Apollo 14 on February 9, 1971

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Archives - Did You Know…


Alan Shepard is my hero. He was the first American in space. What an accomplishment! Then after all the hard work and training to be an astronaut, he was grounded from flying because of an ear disorder. However, this did not discourage him. He continued to work hard and was determined to fly again. And then, he was restored to full flight status. In 1971, Alan Shepard became the fifth person to walk on the moon. Alan Shepard is in elite company because only 12 people have ever walked on the moon.

Alan Shepard

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Archives - Who's Your Hero?


Who were the first people in space?

Yuri Gagarin, Alan Shepard, Gus Grissom, Gherman Titov, and John Glenn.

On April 12, 1961, Yuri Gagarin (Soviet Cosmonaut) was the first person in space and the first person to orbit the earth. His one-orbit flight lasted one hour and 48 minutes. His spacecraft was Vostok.

On May 5, 1961, Alan Shepard (U.S. Astronaut) was the second person and first American in space. His spacecraft was Freedom 7.

Alan Shepard in flight aboard Freedom 7 on May 5, 1961

On July 21, 1961, Virgil I. "Gus" Grissom (U.S. Astronaut) was the third person and second American in space. His spacecraft was Liberty Bell 7.

In August, 1961, Gherman Titov (Soviet Cosmonaut) was the fourth person and second Russian in space. He was the second person to orbit the earth. His orbit lasted 24 hours. His spacecraft was Vostok 2.

On February 20, 1962, John H. Glenn, Jr., (U.S. Astronaut) was the fifth person and third American in space. He was also the first American to orbit the earth. He made three orbits around earth in five hours. His spacecraft was Friendship 7.

View of the Earth from Freedom 7 on May 5, 1961

When will you fly in space?

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What was the name of Alan Shepard's Mercury Spacecraft?

Freedom 7 Patch

Freedom 7.

Freedom 7 was also referred to as Mercury-Redstone 3 or MR-3. Mercury was the name of the mission, and Redstone was the name of the rocket. The Redstone rockets were used on the first two Mercury-manned missions which flew suborbital flights. The third Mercury-manned mission used the Atlas rocket, and it was the first time an American orbited the earth. Did you know the Astronaut for the first orbital flight was John Glenn?

Freedom 7 was a one-manned spacecraft weighing about 3,000 pounds. Unlike the Soviet spacecraft, the Mercury spacecraft could be manually controlled by the astronaut. On May 5, 1961, at 9:34 a.m. EST from Cape Canaveral, Florida, Alan Shepard was launched aboard Freedom 7 by a Redstone rocket. Freedom 7 reached a top speed of 5,134 miles per hour. Shepard's flight was a suborbital flight (meaning it did not orbit the earth) and lasted 15 minutes and 28 seconds. Freedom 7 splashed-down 302 statute miles downrange from Cape Canaveral in the Atlantic Ocean. It was recovered by a helicopter and brought aboard the aircraft carrier Lake Champlain. Did you know space begins at an altitude of 100 miles? Shepard's flight reached an altitude of 116.5 statute miles.

Three weeks later, on May 25, 1961, President John F. Kennedy delivered a Special Message to Congress declaring, "I believe that this nation should commit itself to achieving the goal, before this decade is out, of landing a man on the moon and returning him safely to the earth."

Did you know Alan Shepard was slated to fly a second Mercury mission in 1963? However, this mission was canceled because NASA determined Project Mercury had met its goals, and NASA moved on to Project Gemini, the two-manned missions. Shepard began training for the first Gemini flight. Unfortunately, in 1964, Shepard was diagnosed with an inner ear condition which grounded him. He continued to work for NASA, and was the Chief of the Astronaut Office. In 1969, Shepard had an operation to fix his ear problem, and he was restored to full flight status.

The recovery of Alan Shepard & Freedom 7 on May 5, 1961

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Photo Credits: NASA






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