The Mercury Seven established a new profession in the United States and the image of the American astronaut for decades to come. The whole Mercury Seven crew finally traveled into space. Shepard was the first American in space in 1961, and he subsequently stepped on the Moon with Apollo 14 in 1971. Cooper flew twice, and Grissom died in his capsule during a ground test in 1967.
The names of the Mercury 7 are: John Glenn, Scott Carpenter, Gordon Cooper, Wally Schirra, Thomas Paine, and John Young.
Glenn was the first American to orbit the Earth and he served as a U.S. Senator from Ohio for 24 years. Carpenter developed hypoxia symptoms during his Mercury mission and had to return to Earth before completing his flight. Cooper completed two flights, but never returned to Earth; he died in his Mercury spacecraft during a ground test in 1968. Grissom and White both died in their capsules during ground tests in 1967.
The Russian space program also achieved success with its own group of astronauts known as the "First Men in Space". Vladimir Komarov was the only member of this group to fly in space; his Soyuz 1 spacecraft was destroyed during reentry in 1963. Anatoli Ivanovich Dobrovolsky and Iván Nikolayevich Shkaplerov were the other two members of the crew who participated in NASA's Project Mercury.
Shepard, Alan Alan Shepard was the first person to fly on Mercury. He was the first American to set foot in space. Freedom 7 was the name he gave to his spaceship. The 15-minute mission traveled into space and returned. It was done at 9:32 a.m. on May 5, 1963, from an altitude of 40 miles (64 km). Shepard's flight proved that people could survive in outer space and that the spacecraft was capable of returning men to Earth.
Mercury was the only manned mission taken by NASA until 1972 when Apollo 17 flew past the moon en route to the moon's surface.
NASA's John Glenn became the first person to orbit the planet when he flew into orbit around the Earth on February 20, 1962. He was the first U.S. citizen to do so and held this record for more than eight years. During that time, he completed four orbits of the Earth before landing back on Earth again.
Glenn's mission was part of Project Mercury, which was a series of experiments conducted with humans in space aimed at determining their physiological effects in order to improve life for astronauts working in space. The project was developed by the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) and was launched into operation on October 4, 1958.
In 1959, NASA chose seven candidates for Project Mercury. One of the first things NASA did was choose astronauts. When they were chosen, the agency was just six months old. Alan Shepard was the first person to fly on Mercury. He became the nation's first human space traveler when he entered Earth's orbit on May 5, 1961.
Shepard's flight was a success, but shortly after returning to Earth, he died in a car accident. The death of this popular astronaut caused concern among the public about flying in Mercury vehicles. To help calm these fears, NASA decided to base people on Mercury outside of Earth's atmosphere. This would allow for extended periods of space travel without causing serious problems due to low oxygen levels or extreme temperatures.
NASA hired doctors to look after the health of its astronauts. These physicians were called "consultants" because they gave advice to the agency on medical issues related to space travel. They also helped select the best people for missions by screening applicants out to safety standards. Finally, they monitored the astronauts during their trips in order to prevent any further accidents like Alan Shepard's death.
People may not realize it, but the moon has been used as a space station before. It was called Luna and it served as such from 1959 to 1968. Then it was abandoned until now.
From May 1961 to May 1963, they piloted the six spaceflights of the Mercury program with an astronaut on board, and members of the group flew on all of NASA's human spaceflight missions of the twentieth century—Mercury, Gemini, Apollo, and the Space Shuttle. The first three flights were named Liberty, Freedom, and Ranger; the last three were Astronaut, American, and Challenger.
Of the seven astronauts who flew in space before the loss of Apollo 13, four of them were part of John Glenn's mission: Scott Carpenter, Gus Grissom, Gordon Cooper, and John Glenn himself. The other three men were Pierre Thuot, William Anders, and Vic Lunney. All of these pilots were selected by Group Captain Milt Windler under the direction of Dr. Wernher von Braun. The only woman in this group of early astronauts was Christa McAuliffe. She had been assigned to go along as a teacher but never made it into orbit because her spacecraft failed during its test launch on February 11, 1986.
After the death of the three crew members on Apollo 13, their places were taken by Fred Haise, Jack Swigert, and James Lovell. These three men also belonged to Glenn's crew: Haise had flown on two previous missions, Swigert on another two, and Lovell, the commander of the ill-fated Apollo 13, for the first time.