The sign accompanying the spacecraft mockup. It reads
The Mercury spacecraft displayed here is a replica of those flown into space by
America's first group of Astronauts, four of whom were naval aviators.
Measuring only 6 ft., 2 1/2 inches in diameter, the cone-shaped one man capsule
offered precious little maneuvering room. It featured an orange escape tower
that in the event of an aborted mission, which fortunately never occurred in a
manned mission, ejected the capsule from the rocket. During a successful
launch the tower was jettisoned once it was no longer necessary. In addition,
the blunt end of the capsule was covered with an ablative heat shield to
protect it against the 3,000-degree temperatures during reentry into the
atmosphere. All accomplished pilots, the astronauts insisted that they were
not merely riding the spacecraft, but flying it. Thus, they contributed to the
overall design of the capsule, helping design the instrument panel and flight
controls and recommending a forward centerline
window that provided them visual flight reference.