On This Day In History, The First American Entered Space

Layla Harris

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60 Years ago today, on May 5th, 1961, Navy Commander Alan Bartlett Shepard Jr. experienced a day he would never forget. After years of training and preparations, Shepard was finally about to live out his lifelong dream of traveling to space! Thanks to NASA's Freedom 7 space capsule, Alan accomplished just that.

Alan Shepard Space NASA
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According to NASA, there was fierce competition for the team of astronauts to take on the large feat. However, Shepard soared above the rest and landed himself a spot on the craft. Then, with a suborbital flight of about 15 minutes, the capsule traveled 116 miles into space, something Alan had only dreamt of until that moment.

Apollo 14 Alan Shepard
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Per NASA's reports, Alan gave Freedom 7 its name. This might have been a moment of foreshadowing in the back of his mind that he could potentially make a larger impact in the world of space travel than he realized. But, clarity would soon come for the star-bound astronaut as time finally arrived for his big trip.

Alan Shepard Apollo 14
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On the morning of his space-bound travel day, Shepard woke up at 1:10 am and ate a breakfast of orange juice, scrambled eggs, and a bacon-wrapped filet mignon. He then was hoped into his flight suit and transferred to the takeoff area. Unfortunately, due to delays, he was forced to stay in his suit for upwards of 4 hours.

Space Trip American NASA
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The, what we would imagine being, excited yet nervous team, was finally cleared for takeoff. After a very long wait, Alan got to see the Earth from above. His history-making launch was viewed live on TV by millions, and upon his return, Shepard was celebrated as a national hero!

But, the astronaut wasn't finished quite yet. 10 Years after becoming the first American to enter space, Shepard traveled into the galaxies once again. This time, his mission was to step foot on the moon. Thus, that was exactly what he did, and this time, he brought an American flag to prove it.

Historical Event Alan Shepard
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Once his feet were on the moon's surface, Alan impaled it with a tall American flag. This not only made for an iconic photo but also went down as Shepard's second majorly historical event. In no time, he was promoted to Chief Astronaut and began training individuals for their own missions, adding to the list of history-makers.