Space History Photo: Alan Shepard in Space Suit before Mercury Launch

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Astronaut Alan Shepard, in his silver pressure suit, preparing for his upcoming Mercury-Redstone 3 launch. (Image credit: NASA.)

In this historical photo from the U.S. space agency, Astronaut Alan Shepard, in his silver pressure suit with the helmet visor closed, prepares for his upcoming Mercury-Redstone 3 (MR-3) launch. On May 5, 1961, Alan B. Shepard Jr. became the first American to fly into space.

His Freedom 7 Mercury capsule flew a suborbital trajectory lasting 15 minutes 22 seconds. His spacecraft splashed down in the Atlantic Ocean where he and Freedom 7 were recovered by helicopter and transported to the awaiting aircraft carrier U.S.S. Lake Champlain.

Each weekday, looks back at the history of spaceflight through photos (archive).

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The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) is the U.S. government agency in charge of the civilian space program as well as aeronautics and aerospace research. Founded in 1958, NASA is a civilian space agency aimed at exploring the universe with space telescopes,  satellites, robotic spacecraft, astronauts and more. The space agency has 10 major centers based across the U.S. and launches robotic and crewed missions from the Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral Florida. It's astronaut corps is based at the Johnson Space Center in Houston. To follow NASA's latest mission, follow the space agency on Twitter or any other social channel, of visit: