Project Mercury was the first attempt of the US to send humans into space. It began in 1958 and ended in 1963. During that time, America’s first astronaut, Alan Shephard, achieved orbit.
What was Project Mercury?
- To orbit a spacecraft accompanied by a man around Earth
- Learn about man’s ability to function in space
- For the man and craft to arrive back on land safely
Project Mercury’s Missions
Project Mercury took only five years to complete! Over 2 million people worked together to complete this project. They were all from many different government agencies and aerospace industries. During this time, two manned space flights were successful. This is out of six flights.
They completed these two flights with total pilot safety. Also, no changes to the original Project Mercury plan were made. The astronaut that was in the final completed flight in 1963 was Astronaut Gordon Cooper. These flights were suborbital flights because they reached space and came back. The other four flights went into orbit and circled Earth, but did not go to space.
Other Great Resources
NASA on Project Mercury: https://www.nasa.gov/audience/forstudents/k-4/stories/nasa-knows/what-was-project-mercury-k4.html
The Mercury Program: http://encyclopedia.kids.net.au/page/pr/Project_Mercury
Academic Kids on Project Mercury: https://academickids.com/encyclopedia/index.php/Project_Mercury