Disconnect Hardware, Reserve and Main Parachutes, Mercury Capsule, MR-3

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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:

On May 5, 1961, Alan Shepard became the first American to fly in a space 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 manned spacecraft accessioned into the National Collection. These two pieces are part of the parachute attachment system.

Collection Item Long Description:

Mercury Spacecraft

The first U.S. spaceship was a cone-shaped one-man capsule with a cylinder mounted on top. Two meters (6 ft, 10 in) long, 1.9 meters (6 ft, 2 1/2 in) in diameter, a 5.8 meter (19 ft, 2 in) escape tower was fastened to the cylinder of the capsule. The blunt end was covered with an ablative heat shield to protect it against the 3000 degree heat of entry into the atmosphere.

The Mercury program used two launch vehicles: A Redstone for the suborbital and an Atlas for the four orbital flights. Prior to the manned flights, unmanned tests of the booster and the capsule, carrying a chimpanzee, were made. Each astronaut named his capsule and added the numeral 7 to denote the teamwork of the original astronauts.

Data Source

National Air and Space Museum

Restrictions & Rights

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

Credit Line

Transferred from the National Aeronautics and Space Administration

Materials

  • Ferrous Alloy
  • Unknown Coating

Dimensions

  • 3-D: 2.5 × 1.9cm (1 × 3/4 in.)
  • 3-D: 5.1 × 4.4cm (2 × 1 3/4 in.)

Country of Origin

United States of America

Type

SPACECRAFT-Manned-Parts & Structural Components

Inventory Number

A19620021008