First US manned space flight, 1961

First US manned space flight, 1961

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Credit: NASA/SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY

Caption: First US manned space flight, 1961. Launch of the Freedom 7 capsule on 5th May 1961, from Launch Complex 5, Cape Canaveral, Florida, USA. This mission (Mercury-Redstone 3) was part of the Mercury program, and used a Redstone rocket to launch Alan Shepherd into space. He was the first US astronaut to travel into space, and the second person worldwide after Soviet cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin who had made his flight in April of that year. Shepherd's flight lasted less than 16 minutes, reaching a height of 187 kilometres and landing 486 kilometres to the east in the Atlantic Ocean. Unlike Gagarin, Shepherd did not orbit the Earth.

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