17 Facts About Project Mercury


Project Mercury was the first human spaceflight program of the United States, running from 1958 through 1963.

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When Project Mercury ended in May 1963, both nations had sent six people into space, but the Soviets led the US in total time spent in space.

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Project Mercury flights were launched from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida, on launch vehicles modified from the Redstone and Atlas D missiles.

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The group responsible for Project Mercury was NASA's Space Task Group, and the goals of the program were to orbit a crewed spacecraft around Earth, investigate the pilot's ability to function in space, and to recover both pilot and spacecraft safely.

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In keeping with his desire to keep from giving the US space program an overtly military flavor, President Eisenhower at first hesitated to give the project top national priority, which meant that Mercury had to wait in line behind military projects for materials; however, this rating was granted in May 1959, a little more than a year and a half after Sputnik was launched.

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Project Mercury spacecraft did not have an on-board computer, instead relying on all computation for reentry to be calculated by computers on the ground, with their results then transmitted to the spacecraft by radio while in flight.

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Project Mercury astronauts had taken part in the development of their spacecraft, and insisted that manual control, and a window, be elements of its design.

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Project Mercury-Redstone Launch Vehicle was an 83-foot-tall single-stage launch vehicle used for suborbital flights.

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Project Mercury's flight gave NASA the confidence to move onto orbital flights.

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Project Mercury quit NASA in 1964, when he came to the conclusion that he likely wouldn't be selected for any Apollo missions and later got elected to the US Senate, serving from 1974 to 1999.

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Project Mercury'spard lived with his family at Naval Air Station Oceana in Virginia.

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Project Mercury arrived at the launch pad, took the elevator up the launch tower and entered the spacecraft two hours before launch.

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Project Mercury was then hoisted aboard the helicopter that finally brought both him and the spacecraft to the ship.

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Project Mercury was not present in his spacecraft during landing thus technically his mission was not initially considered as the first complete human spaceflight by then World Air Sports Federation's definitions, although later it recognized that Gagarin was the first human to fly into space.

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All of the six crewed Mercury flights were successful, though some planned flights were canceled during the project .

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Today the Project Mercury program is commemorated as the first American human space program.

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In 1964, a monument commemorating Project Mercury was unveiled near Launch Complex 14 at Cape Canaveral, featuring a metal logo combining the symbol of Mercury with the number 7.

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