The last Mercury mission, Mercury-Atlas 9 (MA-9), was flown by L. Gordon Cooper in the Faith 7 capsule. Launched on May 15, 1963, Cooper completed nearly 22 orbits in 34 hours, 19 minutes, 49 seconds--almost four times the length of Schirra's MA-8 mission. Cooper's flight was the first U.S. mission to have in-flight television. A flashing beacon was successfully ejected from the nose of the capsule to test Cooper's ability to sight objects in space. During the middle orbits of the flight, Cooper let the capsule drift and slept as best he could. Malfunctions in the automatic control and electrical systems toward the end of his mission required that Cooper perform a manual re-entry, yet he still made a precise splashdown in the Pacific Ocean and was picked up by the aircraft carrier Kearsage.
In 1967 NASA transferred title to the Faith 7 to the Smithsonian Institution, but the spacecraft remained on exhibit in Houston.
Transferred from the National Aeronautics and Space Administration