Capsule, Mercury, MR-3

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Mercury Capsule Freedom 7
On May 5, 1961, Alan Shepard became the first American in space in this Mercury capsule. He named it "Freedom 7," the number signifying the seven Mercury astronauts; NASA called the mission Mercury-Redstone 3 (MR-3). Lofted by a Redstone rocket, Shepard and his capsule attained a maximum speed of 5180 mph and rose to an altitude of 116 miles. The sub-orbital flight lasted 15 minutes and 28 seconds. Freedom 7 parachuted into the sea 302 miles from the launch pad at Cape Canaveral, Florida, and was retrieved by helicopter, along with Shepard.
NASA gave "Freedom 7" to the Smithsonian in October 1961, the first manned spacecraft accessioned into the National Collection. It is also the only Mercury capsule of the original type flown by an astronaut. It has small portholes instead of a window over the head of the astronaut, and the main hatch lacks explosive bolts for emergency escape.
Alan B. Shepard Jr.
McDonnell Aircraft Corp.
Credit Line
Transferred from the National Aeronautics and Space Administration
Restrictions & Rights
Do not reproduce without permission from the Smithsonian Institution, National Air and Space Museum
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National Air and Space Museum Collection
Inventory Number
Country of Origin
United States of America
Skin & Structure: Titanium
Shingles: Nickel-steel alloy; Beryllium shingles
Ablation Shield: Glass fibers, resin
Overall: 9 ft. 5 in. tall x 6 ft. 1 in. diameter, 2422 lb. (287 x 185.4cm, 1098.6kg)
Capsule Only ( not including stand) : 93-1/4" H
Support (at base): 6 ft. 1 in. diameter (185.4cm)
Weight: 2316 lbs. (approximation)
National Air and Space Museum