Capsule, Mercury, MR-3

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    Capsule, Mercury, MR-3, FREEDOM 7

    Black, bell-shaped capsule with two circular windows, one periscope opening, entrance hatchway; heat shield removed, includes display stand.

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    Mercury Freedom 7 Capsule

    Astronaut Alan B. Shepard made the first U.S. piloted spaceflight in this spacecraft on May 5, 1961.
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    The interior of Shepard's Freedom 7 capsule.

    The interior of Shepard's Freedom 7 capsule.

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    In Plane View: Mercury Capsule 15B Freedom 7 II

    The pattern of stripes and circles are rockets located on the base of the Freedom 7 II space capsule. The spacecraft had three small rockets to separate it from its booster, and three large retrorockets to slow the capsule and bring it out of orbit.

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This object is on display in the Boeing Aviation Hangar at the Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center in Chantilly, VA.

Boeing Aviation Hangar

On May 5, 1961, Alan Shepard became the first American in space in this Mercury 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 28 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.

NASA gave "Freedom 7" to the Smithsonian in October 1961, the first human spacecraft accessioned into the National Collection. It is also the only Mercury capsule of the original type flown by an astronaut. It has small portholes instead of a window over the head of the astronaut, and the main hatch lacks explosive bolts for emergency escape.