Faith 7: Gordon Cooper's 1963 Mercury-Atlas 9 Launch in Pictures

Countdown to Faith 7


On May 15, 1963 NASA astronaut Gordon Cooper launched into space on the Faith 7 mission in his Mercury space capsule. See photos from Cooper's historic flight here.

This Photo:

Tests and Checks


During a 1962 test in the Cape Canaveral White Room at Hanger S, astronaut L. Gordon Cooper, Jr., rests on a weight and balance scale.

In and Out


The Mercury Atlas 9 mission craft offered two exit routes. The prime pilot for the mission, astronaut L. Gordon Cooper, Jr., can egress through the neck of the spacecraft, as seen in this training, or thought an explosive actuated side hatch.

Sharing Information


Astronauts L. Gordon Cooper, Jr., prime pilot for the Mercury Atlas 9 mission, and Alan Shepard, Mercury Atlas 9 backup pilot, discuss a 16mm handheld spacecraft camera that was designed to photograph MIT and Weather Bureau experiments in space for this mission by J.R. Hereford of McDonnell Aircraft Corp.

Safety Equipment, Check


Astronaut L. Gordon Cooper, Jr., examines his life vest with the help of Al Rochford of Crew Systems from the Manned Space Center. The vest is stored in a pocket on the lower left leg of the spacesuit.

Fill'er Up


A 1963 pressurization text checks astronaut L. Gordon Cooper, Jr.'s suit for safety.

The Official Word


During a preflight conference in 1963, astronaut L. Gordon Cooper, Jr., answers questions from newsmen.

Heartfelt Words


As astronaut L. Gordon Cooper, Jr., orbited the Earth inside the Faith 7 for the 17th time during the Mercury Atlas 9 mission, this prayer, displayed here in an artistic document in calligraphy, was read.

Intense Preparation


Days before the scheduled launch of the 22 orbit Mercury Atlas 9 mission, astronaut L. Gordon Cooper, Jr., prime pilot for the mission, participates in preflight simulations passing through the gantry to the Faith 7 capsule.

A Moment Before Launch


On May 15, 1963, after taking a few personal moments inside the transfer van, astronaut L. Gordon Cooper, Jr. made his way to the Faith 7 capsule atop the Atlas vehicle for the launch of the Mercury Atlas 9 mission.

Helping Hands


In preparation for the Mercury Atlas 9 Earth-orbital space mission launch, NASA technicians help astronaut L. Gordon Cooper, Jr. into the Faith 7 spacecraft. The flight, launched on May 15, 1963, lasted 34 hours and 20 minutes.

Join our Space Forums to keep talking space on the latest missions, night sky and more! And if you have a news tip, correction or comment, let us know at:

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.