On May 5, 1961, Alan B. Shepard, Jr. became the first American in space in the Mercury MR-3 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 22 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, and both were taken aboard the recovery ship, the USS Lake Champlain (CV-39). Lieutenant (junior grade) Robert J. Jaczko, Sr. was the Public Information Officer for the ship at the time of Shepard's historic flight and was responsible for the press corps aboard for the event.