This Mercury capsule, number 15B, is one of two left showing the complete one-man spacecraft in its orbital configuration. It includes the silver and black retrorocket package used to slow the capsule for return to Earth and the nose section containing the parachutes. The first American in space, Alan B. Shepard, Jr., hoped to fly this Mercury capsule on a long-duration orbital mission in late 1963 called Mercury-Atlas 10 (MA-10). After the success of MA-9, flown by astronaut Gordon Cooper in May 1963, NASA decided to cancel MA-10 to concentrate on its next human spaceflight project, Gemini. Reflecting Shepard's hope of flying in space again, he had the name Freedom 7 II, in tribute to his historic 1961 capsule, Freedom 7, painted on the spacecraft.
In September 1967 NASA transferred the capsule to the Smithsonian Institution.