Collection Item Summary:
This artifact was used in 50 drop tests to qualify the Mercury capsule for recovery on land and sea. A boilerplate is a mockup of the same external weight and size as a flight production model, but usually made out of steel. The design and function of a spacecraft can be evaluated without endangering human life or incurring the expense associated with a real spacecraft. In September 1967 NASA transferred this drop test vehicle to the Smithsonian Institution.
Project Mercury was the United States' first human spaceflight program, with a goal of launching a series of one-man capsules into space. Six astronauts flew in Mercury capsules from 1961-63, the first two were lofted into suborbital trajectories by the Redstone rocket, the last four into orbit by the Atlas ICBM.