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Nothing But the Facts About Project Mercury

written by: johnsinit•edited by: RC Davison•updated: 3/31/2009

Project Mercury was the name of first American Space program – its mission defined as “to put the man into orbit”. 7 manned flight were performed as part of Mercury project. Read interesting facts about the project in this article.

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    Project Mercury Images

    Mercury RocketMercury CapsuleMercury-Atlas 6 launch7 Mercury astronauts
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    The Facts

    Project Years: The Mercury Program operated from 1959 to 1965.

    Primary Mission Objective: Put a human into orbit

    Secondary Mission Objectives: Test human ability to perform in space, recover the crew and spacecraft safely

    Goal Achieved: April, 20 1962 (Mercury 6)

    Name Origin: Mercury – Roman mythological God, famous for his speed

    Program Cost: 384 million dollars – equivalent to 2.7 billion (2007)

    Spacecraft Crew: one pilot

    Spacecraft Designed By: Max Faget and other ex-German rocket engineers

    Spacecraft Dimensions: Height 11.51ft (3.51 meter), Diameter 6.2 ft (1.89m), Volume 60 cubic feet (1.7 cubic meters)

    Spacecraft Weight: Launch 4265 lb (1935kg) Orbit 2986lb (1354kg) Landing 2421 lb (1098kg) – data for first orbital flight, Mercury-Atlas 6

    Spacecraft: max time in space – 34 hours

    Spacecraft Orbital Apogee: 175 miles (282 km)

    Spacecraft Orbital Perigee: 100 miles (160 km)

    Boosters: Little Joe (testing), Redstone (suborbital flights), Atlas (orbital flights)

    Total Spacecraft Produced: 20, by McDonnel Aircraft company

    Robotic Flights: 20

    Other Unmanned Flights: 4 (2 macaque – Sam, Miss Sam, 2 chimpanzee – Ham Enos)

    First Unmanned Flight: December 4, 1959

    First Unmanned Flight Duration: 11 minutes, 6 seconds

    First Unmanned Flight Crew: Sam the monkey

    Manned Flights: 6

    First Manned Flight (Sub-orbital): May 5,1961

    First Manned Flight Duration: 15 minutes 28 seconds

    First Manned Flight Mission: Mercury-Restone 3

    First Manned Flight Callsign: Freedom 7

    First Manned Flight Crew: Alan Barlett Shepard, Jr. – first American in Space

    First Orbital Flight: February 20, 1962

    First Orbital Flight Duration: 4 hours, 55 minutes 23seconds

    First Orbital Flight Mission: Mercury-Atlas 6

    First Orbital Flight Callsign: Friendship 7

    First Orbital Flight Crew: John Herschek Glenn, Jr.. – first American to reach orbit

    Last Flight: May 15, 1963

    Last Flight Duration: 1 day 10 hours 19 minutes 49 seconds

    Last Flight Mission: Mercury-Atlas 9

    Last Flight Callsign: Faith 7

    Last Flight Crew: Leroy Gordon “Gordo” Cooper, Jr. – first Amecrican to stay in orbit over a day. Last American to orbit the Earth alone.

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    Interesting data

    The Mercury program was the first major task the newly formed National Aeronautics and Space Administration - NASA took on.

    The “Astro” knife was designed for and by Mercury astronauts by Randall knife company.

    The last 3 Mercury missions (Mercury-Atlas 10,11,12) were cancelled for various reasons.