Alan Shepard was the first American Astronaut in space. He launched from Cape Canaveral, Florida. On May 5, 1961. At 9:34 A.M. EST. The ship he was in was a Mercury capsule named Freedom 7. It was carried into space by a Redstone rocket. During the first two minutes Alan's vision dimmed, probably suffering from the rapid ascent. He was alright in a minute, or two. At 117 miles in space he radioed "A-OK". To control any rolls, pitches or yaw, he fired hydrogen-peroxide capsules which stabilized the ship.
The Mercury ship weighed 2250 pounds and reached a speed of 5100 miles per hour. Alan and the Freedom 7 splashed down at 09:49 in the Atlantic ocean.
Born Alan Bartlet Shephard, Jr. November 18, 1923 in the city of East Durry, New Hampshire. Alan and his wife Louise, have two daughters Laura and Juliana. Alan now works for the US Government. Shepard was educated at the Admiral Farragut Academy, U.S. Naval Acadamy and the Naval War Collage. Alan Shepard served his country during WWII and became a test pilot after WWII. Alan took part in a 2-year training program along with 6 other Astronauts and was chosen to be the first American in Space. Only one month prior Russia had placed a man in space. YURI GAGARIN was the first earth man to reach space in his Russian ship called Vostock.
Mercury III was a great success and was not too overshadowed by the Russian's accomplishment. America was a little behind Russia in the SPACE RACE, but was catching up quick! President Kennedy was determined to keep America superior in the skies, and space was a frontier that needed to be claimed and protectted in Kennedy's eyes.
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