Just one month after Russian cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin became the very first man in space, super-duper test pilot turned astronaut, Alan Shepard blasted off into the stars a month later making him the second, and America's first! The flight took 15 minutes, 28 seconds!
"The rocket had worked perfectly, and all I had to do was survive the reentry forces. You do it all, in a flight like that, in a rather short period of time, just 16 minutes as a mater of fact."
- Alan Shepard
Alan Shepard was the first of seven that were hand picked to be apart of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration, aka, NASA! The Right Stuff , technically the group was called Mercury 7, included, John Glenn (first man on the moon), Virgil "Gus" Grissom, Donald "Deke" Slayton, Malcolm "Scott" Carpenter, Walter "Wally" Schirra and Gordon Cooper.
Speaking of "The Right Stuff" If you guys love space movies, then I highly recommend, The Right Stuff, starring Ed Harris, Sam Shepard, Dennis Quaid and directed by Philip Kaufman. It always has me on the edge of my seat!
Hers's another Alan Shepard Quote! It really makes you think! "YEESH!"
“It is a very sobering feeling to be up in space and realize that one's safety factor was determined by the lowest bidder on a government contract.”
Fascinatingly enough, this past week, on Sunday, May 2nd, the SpaceX Dragon crew had their first nightime splashdown since the Apollo missions began. That was 53 years ago! The final Apollo mission was completed on December 27, 1968.
Today, we are in the brink of a whole new Space Race! And now our target is Mars! This is an exciting time. And as we continue to build our International Space Station and retrieve information from the Mars rover, Curiosity, we'll be inching closer and closer to sending astronauts to the red planet. We sure have come a long way since the 1960's. But one thing stays consistent, the fearless pilots and scientists that push the boundaries! It takes some seriously brave men and women to sign up for these expeditions! Could you do it? The future of life outside our planet depends on these expeditions. It's amazing to think about. And I can't wait to see what the future holds! But for now let's celebrate the first American in Space, Alan Shepard.