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Photos: Freedom 7, America's 1st Human Spaceflight

Freedom 7: Alan Shepard's Mercury Flight

Navy test pilot Alan Shepard becomes first American in Space.

Lift Me Up

NASA

A Marine helicopter picks up Mercury astronaut Alan Shepard and his Freedom 7 capsule in the Atlantic Ocean after his first American sub-orbital flight on May 5, 1961. Engineers said the spacecraft was in such great shape it could be reused. Doctors said Shepard could be used again too.

Handled It Like a Pro

NASA

Astronaut Alan B. Shepard Jr. walks away from his Freedom 7 capsule following a post-flight inspection aboard the carrier USS Champlain. Earlier Shepard had completed the historic 15-minute suborbital Mercury-Redstone 3 mission, marking America's inaugural manned trip into space.

Gimme Five, Bro!

NASA

On May 5, 1961 Astronaut Alan B. Shepard Jr. arrives at Grand Bahamas Island and is greeted by astronaut Virgil I. (Gus) Grissom after the first American suborbital flight.

Medal Man

NASA

President John F. Kennedy presents astronaut Alan B. Shepard Jr. with NASA's Distinguished Service Medal Award in a Rose Garden ceremony on May 8, 1961, at the White House.

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