The Mercury Project , started 1958, was the first American man-in-space program. The objectives were defined clearly into three steps. First, to orbit a manned spacecraft around the Earth. Second, to investigate man's ability to function in space. And lastly, to recover both man and spacecraft safely.
The first suborbital flight was by Alan Shepard on May 5, 1961 and lasted 15 minutes and 28 seconds. The first orbital flight was by John Glenn on February 20, 1962 and lasted 4 hr and 55 minutes. The last American to orbit solo was Oklahoma native, Gordon Cooper. Cooper logged more time in in space than all five previous Mercury missions combined. The successful Mercury project ended in 1963 with 2 suborbital and 4 orbital flights.
Pictured is a 1/3 scale model with the launch escape tower.
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