The First Spacemen

By | Feb 20, 2017

Freedom 7
Launched May 8, 1961 with Alan Shepard aboard. The flight put the first man in space. It lasted 15 minutes 28 seconds. The flight did not orbit the earth.

Liberty Bell 7
Launched July 21, 1961 with Virgil (Gus) Grissom aboard. Second flight into space, but it too was a non-orbital flight lasting 15 minutes 37 seconds. The capsule sunk when the hatch flew off before the rescue helicopter attached onto it. Grissom along with Edward White and Roger Chaffee was killed in the capsule fire of Apollo 1 on January 27, 1967. These were first lives lost in the American Space program.

Friendship 7
Launched February 20, 1962 with John Glenn aboard. The flight lasted 4 hours 55 minutes 23 seconds and was the first time an American orbited the earth in outer space. It lasted 3 of the scheduled 7 orbits. There was concerns about the heat shield.

Aurora 7
Launched May 24, 1962 with Scott Carpenter aboard. The flight lasted for 4 hours 56 minutes 23 seconds lasting 3 orbits. This was originally was to be Deke Slayton’s flight, however he developed an irregular heartbeat and was the only one of the Mercury Seven, not to go into space in a Mercury spacecraft. Slayton was later reinstated and flew in space in 1975.

Sigma 7
Launched October 3, 1962 with Wally Schirra aboard. The flight lasted 9 hours 13 minutes 11 seconds for 6 orbits. Schirra was the only person to go into space in the Mercury, Gemini and Apollo programs.

Faith 7
Launched May 15, 1963 with Gordon Cooper aboard. The flight lasted for 1 day 10 hours 19 minutes 49 seconds. Gordon was the first American to be in space for over a day and was the last American to fly into space and orbit solo. This turned out to be the last Mercury flight. Alan Shepard had been scheduled to take the Freedom 7-II to space in October 1963 when the Mercury program was canceled.


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