America ventures into space

Project Mercury was the first human spaceflight program of the United States. It ran from 1959 through 1963 with the goal of putting a human in orbit around the Earth. The program included 20 unmanned launches, followed by two suborbital and four orbital flights with astronaut pilots.

Mercury 7 Astronauts

Mercury 7 Astronauts

From left to right: Gordon Cooper, Walter Schirra, Alan Shepard, Virgil Grissom, John Glenn, Donald Slayton and Scott Carpenter

The first Americans to venture into space were drawn from a group of 110 military pilots chosen for their flight test experience and because they met certain physical requirements. NASA announced the selection of seven of these – known as the Mercury Seven – as astronauts on 9 April 1959, though only six of the seven flew Mercury missions, after Slayton was grounded due to a heart condition.

Malcolm Scott Carpenter, USN (born 1925); Aurora 7 pilot. Second American to orbit the Earth and the fourth American in space, following Alan Shepard, Gus Grissom, and John Glenn. 3 orbits. Reentered off-target by 402 km. Pilot Carpenter replaced Deke Slayton.

Leroy Gordon “Gordo” Cooper, Jr., USAF (1927–2004); Faith 7 pilot. He was the first American to sleep in orbit, had flown the longest spaceflight of the Mercury project, and was the last American to be launched alone into Earth orbit and conduct an entire solo orbital mission.

John Herschel Glenn, Jr., USMC (born 1921); First American to orbit the Earth and third American in space. He orbited the Earth in Friendship 7 in 1962. On October 29, 1998, he became the oldest person to fly in space, and the only one to fly in both the Mercury and Space Shuttle programs, when at age 77, he flew on Discovery. Glenn and M. Scott Carpenter are the last surviving members of the Mercury Seven.

Virgil Ivan “Gus” Grissom, USAF (1926–1967); Pilot of Mercury-Redstone 4, popularly known as Liberty Bell 7, the second American (suborbital) spaceflight. Grissom was killed along with fellow astronauts Ed White and Roger Chaffee during a pre-launch test for the Apollo 1 mission at Cape Kennedy, Florida.

Walter Marty “Wally” Schirra, Jr., USN (1923–2007) Fifth American in space, piloting the Mercury-Atlas 8 (Sigma 7) on a six-orbit mission lasting 9 hours, 13 minutes, and 11 seconds. He is the only person to fly in all of America’s first three space programs (Mercury, Gemini and Apollo). He logged a total of 295 hours and 15 minutes in space.

Alan Bartlett Shepard, Jr., USN (1923–1998);  Second person, first American in space. Rode Freedom 7 in sub-orbital flight for 15 minutes, 28 seconds at an altitude of 116 miles to a landing point 302 miles down the Atlantic Missile Range. Commander of Apollo 14 and fifth person to walk on the moon.

DonaldKent “Deke” Slayton, USAF (1924–1993); grounded in 1962 due to irregular heartbeat, reinstated in 1972 and flew on the Apollo-Soyuz Test Project in 1975.

Mercury-Redstone 3 was a U.S. Mercury program manned space mission launched on May 5, 1961 using a Redstone rocket, from Cape Canaveral, Florida. The Mercury spacecraft was named Freedom 7 which performed a suborbital flight piloted by astronaut Alan Shepard, who became the first American in space. The flight lasted less than 16 minutes and attained an altitude of just over 116 miles.

Three astronauts were chosen as finalists to fly the MR-3 mission in January, 1961 and on February 22, 1961 their names were announced to the public. The three were Alan Shepard, Gus Grissom and John Glenn.

This site is dedicated to material in a presskit released by NASA to the media prior to the May 5 launch of Mercury-Redstone 3. What I have in this presskit are several pages of text, presented here, as well as various photographs scattered around the site as well as in the photo gallery. I also have 58 original negatives of these and other photos of the pre-flight preparation and the recovery after the flight.

The bundle is for sale… make me an offer.

If you would like more information, I can be reached at

Pam Gibson

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