Soon after the organization of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) in October 1959, that agency selected Project Mercury as the first United States manned space program. The project was planned to launch a single man into Earth orbit and return him to Earth. Before launching a manned flight NASA planned a series of unmanned launches with the Mercury spacecraft/launch vehicle combinations to insure the success of later manned flights. The first successful launch of an instrumented Mercury boiler plate capsule, dubbed 'Big Joe' occurred on 9 September 1959 on an Atlas-10D booster from Cape Canaveral. The capsule reached an altitude of 161km (100 miles)e successfully reentering the atmosphere.