Capsule, Mercury, MA-8


Display Status:

This object is not on display at the National Air and Space Museum. It is either on loan or in storage.

Collection Item Summary:

Walter M. Schirra piloted this spacecraft, named Sigma 7, on October 3, 1962--the fifth manned flight of the first U.S. human spaceflight program, Project Mercury. He was the third American to go into orbit. His primary mission objective was to test methods of conserving attitude control fuel in order to extend flight; he allowed the spacecraft to drift for long periods. During the 9 hour 13 minute mission, Schirra orbited the Earth six times, solving overheating problems with his suit and deploying a 76 cm (30 in.) balloon on a 30 m (100 ft.) tether to experiment with atmospheric drag. Sigma 7 was the first of the Mercury capsules to splash down in the Pacific Ocean, northeast of Midway Island.

NASA transferred title of Sigma 7 (Mercury capsule # 16) to the Smithsonian in 1967 while the spacecraft was on exhibit at the NASA Marshall Space Flight Center.

Collection Item Long Description:

Inventory Number


Credit Line

Transferred from the National Aeronautics and Space Administration

Country of Origin

United States of America


  • Skin & Structure: Titanium
  • Shingles: Nickel-steel alloy; Beryllium shingles removed
  • Ablation Shield: Glass fibers, resin


  • Overall: 112 in. tall x 73 in.wide, 2400 lb. (284.5 x 185.4cm, 1088.6kg)
  • Other: 112 in. (284.5cm)
  • Support (at base): 73 in. (185.4cm)

Data Source

National Air and Space Museum

Restrictions & Rights

Do not reproduce without permission from the Smithsonian Institution, National Air and Space Museum