50 Years of American Spaceflight
Today marks the 50th anniversary of Alan B. Shepard's sub-orbital flight aboard Freedom 7. The "ride" only lasted 15 minutes and 22 seconds, and reached a height of 116.46 miles. As his flight was the first to follow international rules, I decided not to mention in this blog the one that happened about 3 weeks earlier. OK, I'll admit I'm biased...the earlier flight wasn't American. Freedom 7 had been scheduled to fly 1 month earlier, but NASA wanted to perform more testing (yes, that's right, we sent another chimp up first), thus losing another round in the Space Race.
Yesterday, the U.S. Postal Service released two new stamps commemorating 2 flights spanning this time period. Shepard is the first astronaut to appear by himself on a stamp:
This video from NASA honors today's achievement, and includes comments from 2 of his Mercury colleagues:
Shepard was the only astronaut of the original seven selected by NASA to go on and make a moon landing as commander of Apollo 14. He also was the first to play golf on the Moon, on Feb. 6, 1971 (my ninth birthday).
Miles and miles and miles...