Alan B. Shepard, Jr. was born on November 18,
1923. He was born and raised in East Derry, New Hampshire. He was the son of a
retired Army colonel, Alan Bartlett Shepard, Sr., and Renza Emerson Shepard.
As a child, Shepard
attended a one-room schoolhouse. He lived on a farm, but he on weekends he
rode his bike to the airport and did odd jobs. There he learned about
Alan Bartlett Shepard, Jr. attended the Admiral Farragut
Academy in New Jersey. He went to the U.S. Naval Academy in Annapolis and
graduated in 1944, becoming a Naval Aviator in 1947. In 1950, he attended the
U.S. Navy Test Pilot School where he became an instructor. He also attended the
Naval War College, graduating in 1957.
During World War
II, Shepard served as an ensign on the destroyer Cogswell. After the
war, he became a naval aviator and then a Navy test pilot.
outstanding record as a test pilot with several thousand hours of complex flying
played a major role in his selection as one of the original seven U.S.
astronauts in 1959. He was evaluated as the best of the group, so he was chosen
to be the first American in space. After two years of extensive training,
Shepard piloted the Mercury spacecraft Freedom 7 through its first successful
sub-orbital flight. Although the flight lasted only 15 minutes, the capsule
reached an altitude of 16 miles and speed of 5,180 miles per hour. This historic
flight was the beginning of American's manned space programs.
After his initial success, Shepard was grounded because of an
inner ear disorder, but he remained with NASA as Chief of the Astronaut
Department. In this job, he was responsible
for monitoring the development and implementation of programs for training space
flight personnel, pilot evaluation of the design, construction, and operations
of spacecraft systems and equipment, and mission planning.
ear surgery, he was restored to flight status in 1969, and he became the
Commander of the Apollo XIV Mission in January 1971. On this, man's third lunar
landing mission, Shepard, became the fifth man to walk on the moon. He spent 33
hours on the lunar surface and 9 hours 17 minutes of it in extra- vehicular
activity. After this flight Shepard, resumed his duties as Chief of the
Astronaut Office until 1974,
when he retired from NASA and the Navy with the rank of Rear
Alan Bartlett Shepard, Jr. was the first
American in space. He was the fifth person to ever walk on the moon.
Congressional Medal of
Invested in the International
Aerospace Hall of Fame in 1971
NASA Exceptional Service
Navy Distinguished Flying Cross
City of New York Gold Medal
Achievement Award for 1971
Shepard passed away of leukemia at
the age of 74, on July 21, 1998, at Community Hospital near Monterey,