The first American spaceflight was a triumph—for an astronaut and for a nation.
- By Tony Reichhardt
- AirSpaceMag.com, May 05, 2011
Launch of the Mercury-Redstone 3 rocket with Alan Shepard onboard, 9:34 a.m., May 5, 1961. The Redstone had been used to launch missiles, but not people, and had to be modified for the Mercury program. Shepard's rocket had a longer fuel tank than previous Redstones, and—most importantly—an escape system that would quickly separate the capsule from the booster in case of a launchpad explosion.