Launch of Virgil 'Gus' Grisom's Redstone rocket (MR4), 1961.
© National Aeronautics & Space Administration / Science & Society
This carried Grisom, America's second man in space, on a suborbital hop on 21st July 1961. On Mercury Redstone 4 (MR4) Grisom reached a height of 190 km during his 15 minute 37 second flight. His Mercury capsule, Liberty Bell 7, sank soon after splashdown in the Atlantic. Grisom swam clear and was picked up by helicopter. He was later tragically killed in the fire that engulfed the Apollo 1 Command Module during a launch pad test in 1967. Begun in 1958, Project Mercury was NASA's first manned spaceflight programme.