I just added these four 1962 Project Mercury stamps to my collection. They are not particularly valuable, but I like the unique American achievement they represent.
Project Mercury was the first U.S. manned spaceflight program. It had a very basic goal of putting an astronaut into orbit and then bringing him back down safely.
Scary, scary, stuff when you consider-
- NASA knew next to nothing about the effects space would have on an astronaut.
- They were using extremely volatile Redstone and Atlas rockets, which were famous for blowing up during launch.
- The Mercury “Space Capsule” was little more than a tin can with untested re-entry technology.
The patriotism and courage Alan Shepard demonstrated on May 5, 1961, when he rode that first American tin can into space, is awe-inspiring.
Oh, and of course to give credit where credit is due, similar Kudos to Cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin who flew one month before Shepard, becoming the first human being to fly a tin can into space.
Below- In this NASA photo, Alan Shepard is shown being hoisted aboard a U.S. Marine helicopter after his successful mission. His Freedom 7 Mercury capsule can be seen just below him.