RADM Alan B. Shepard, Jr., 1923-1998
1st American in Space
NASA astronaut Alan B. Shepard, Jr. rocketed into history on May 5, 1961, when
he became the first American to fly in space. A 1944 graduate of the Naval
Academy, Shepard served on the destroyer Cogswell in World
War II. Afterward, he entered flight training and became a Navy test pilot.
One of the seven original Mercury astronauts selected by NASA in 1959, Shepard
made history in 1961 by flying in the Freedom
7 Mercury capsule on a 15-minute suborbital flight at an
altitude of 116 miles. Later designated Chief of the Astronaut Office in 1963,
Shepard flew to the moon as spacecraft commander of Apollo 14 on January 31, 1971.
One only 12 Americans ever to walk on the moon, Shepard was best remembered for
hitting golf balls across the lunar surface with a makeshift golf club.
Alan Shepard retired from the Navy as a Rear Admiral and from NASA in 1974.
He received the Congressional Space Medal of
Honor along with a number of other decorations, and was inducted into the
Astronaut Hall of Fame at Kennedy Space
Center on May 11, 1990.
Alan Shepard died, at age 74, in July 1998.