Building Project Mercury: Test Flight Photos of NASA's First Spaceship



On November 29, 1961, a handler holds hands with Chimpanzee Enos as he lay in his flight couch. Enos wears his spacesuit as he is being prepared for insertion into the Mercury-Atlas 5 capsule.

Space Chimp


After orbiting Earth twice aboard a Mercury spacecraft, Enos the chimpanzee arrives at Patrick Air Force Base after the USS Stormes recovered him and the craft south of Bermuda. Examination revealed Enos suffered no ill effects from the space ride.



Sitting on his handler's lap Chimpanzee Enos drinks from a cup at a kitchen table.

Engines Fire


On September 13, 1961, the Mercury-Atlas 4 spacecraft launched from Cape Canaveral, Florida.

From Space


From the Mercury-Atlas 4, this photograph of a shoreline on Earth was captured on September 13, 1961.



After a successful launch from Cape Canaveral, the Mercury-Atlas 4 was recovered at sea.

Planned Mission


An October 1963 drawing in pen and ink revealed a proposed design for a Pig Capsule in the Little Joe capsule first shot.

Future Manned Flight


A 1964 drawing depicts the relative sizes of NASA launch vehicles: the one-man Mercury craft, the two-man Gemini craft and the three-man Apollo craft.

Alone in Space


An illustration, drawn February 11, 1964, reveals the concept of the Mercury Vehicle.

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Christine Lunsford
Producer and Contributing Writer

Christine Lunsford joined the team in 2010 as a freelance producer and later became a contributing writer, covering astrophotography images, astronomy photos and amazing space galleries and more. During her more than 10 years with, oversaw the site's monthly skywatching updates and produced overnight features and stories on the latest space discoveries. She enjoys learning about subjects of all kinds.