The first American spaceflight was a triumph—for an astronaut and for a nation.
- By Tony Reichhardt
- AirSpaceMag.com, May 05, 2011
The geniuses behind the Mercury spacecraft were located at NASA's Langley research center in Virginia. Engineer Max Faget (in the bow tie) was among those who realized that a blunt capsule was better for space travel than the pointy rockets of science fiction. As head of NASA's Space Task Group, Robert Gilruth (second from left) was responsible for executing Project Mercury, and it was Gilruth who decided that Shepard should make the first suborbital flight.