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The sign accompanying the Mercury-Redstone. It reads

We Could Lose Him

We took every precaution. Stretched technology to unimagined limits. Installed backup-systems for everything. And tested and tested it over and over again. But nothing we could do would give us a 100% guarantee that we would not lose Commander Alan Shepard on May 5, 1961 when he said, "C'mon ... let's light this candle," and became our First American in Space.

Strapped into the driver's seat of his tiny Mercury Capsule, Freedom 7, he rode his Redstone rocket 115 miles up and landed successfully 302 miles down range. Secretly, a thousand fingers uncrossed and relaxed.

ROCKET DATA: Mercury Redstone
Height: 25.3 meters (83 feet)
Diameter: 1.8 meters (70 inches)
Fuel: Liquid Oxygen (LOX) and Alcohol-Water
Lift-off thrust: 78,000 pounds

Time picture taken Tue Jun 15 08:36:14 2004
Location picture taken Rocket Garden
Visitor Center
Kennedy Space Center, FL
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