Launch of Alan Shepard's Redstone rocket (MR3), 1961.
© National Aeronautics & Space Administration / Science & Society
This mision, designated MR3 Freedom 7, took place on 5th May 1961, and was the first manned launch of the Mercury spacecraft. The rocket carried Shepard, America's first man in space, on a suborbital hop which lasted 15 minutes 22 seconds, during which Shepard was weightles for about 5 minutes. Begun in 1958, Project Mercury was NASA's first manned spaceflight programme.