The Mercury vehicle prepared for re-entry.
Credit: Paul Riedel
In this historical photo from the U.S. space agency, the Retro and Posigrade Package for the Mercury spacecraft is fitted on Sept. 16, 1960. This was used to de-orbit the spacecraft at the end of mission.
The National Advisory Committee on Aeronautics (NACA) was a precursor to NASA. The NACA was created by Congress in 1915.
Each weekday, SPACE.com looks back at the history of spaceflight through photos (archive).