One of the signs accompanying the spacecraft. It reads
Project Mercury (1959-1963)
Project mercury was the first human spaceflight program in the United States.
NASA's three main goal for Project Mercury were
- To orbit a manned spacecraft around Earth
- To investigate how well a human is able to function in space
- The safe return of both man and spacecraft
Seven astronauts (the Mercury 7) were chosen in 1959 from a group of 508
military test pilots. On May 5, 1961, Alan Shepard became the first
American in space.
Building Mercury Spacecraft in St. Louis
The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) was founded in 1958.
That same year, the McDonnell Aircraft Corporation (MAC) submitted its bid to
build the first U.S. Spacecraft. In 1959 MAC was chosen and St. Louis became
the center of U.S. efforts to beat the Soviets in successfully landing a manned
spacecraft on the Moon.
Throughout their training, the Mercury 7 frequently traveled to St. Louis. At
MAC, each of the astronauts was fitted for his own personal "couch" - a seat specifically molded
to his body. They also worked with Mr. Mac (James S. McDonnell) and the
Project Mercury engineers and technician building the spacecraft that would
take them into space. During these visits, the engineers, technicians and
astronauts working on Project Mercury truly became one team - the team that
would take America to space.
Mercury Capsule #19
Titanium, nickel-steel alloy, glass fibers, and resin
United States, 1962
On loan from the Smithsonian National Air and