Mercury MR-3 Flight Freedom 7 Recovery Photographs 1961


Collection Item Summary:

This collection consists of twenty-one U.S. Navy photographs compiled for the press kit prepared for the Mercury-Redstone 3 (MR-3) mission. The photographs show the recovery mission as well as Alan B. Shepard, Jr. during debriefing. There is also a photograph showing the press corps that was selected to be aboard the USS Lake Champlain (CV-39), which is signed on the reverse by many of the reporters. The photographs are all black and white and measure 8 by 10 inches each. The collection also contains a teletype news story filed by the United Press International (UPI) aboard the ship, and a color post card showing the recovery of Freedom 7 by helicopter.

Collection Item Long Description:


  • Astronautics
  • Mercury MR-3 Flight Freedom 7
  • Aircraft carriers
  • Helicopters

Data Source

National Air and Space Museum Archives

Restrictions & Rights

No restrictions on access


United States Navy


Shepard, Alan B (Alan Bartlett) 1923-1998

Physical description

0.05 cubic feet (1 folder)




On May 5, 1961, Alan B. Shepard, Jr. became the first American in space in the Mercury MR-3 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 22 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, and both were taken aboard the recovery ship, the USS Lake Champlain (CV-39). Lieutenant (junior grade) Robert J. Jaczko, Sr. was the Public Information Officer for the ship at the time of Shepard's historic flight and was responsible for the press corps aboard for the event.

Cite as

Mercury MR-3 Flight Freedom 7 Recovery Photographs, Acce. 2018-0024, National Air and Space Museum, Smithsonian Institution

Repository Loc.

National Air and Space Museum, Archives Division, MRC 322, Washington, DC, 20560


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