Mercury Redstone 4: Photos from Gus Grissom's Liberty Bell 7 Spaceflight

Firing Engines


Grissom launched in the Mercury-Redstone 4 spacecraft from Cape Canaveral, Florida, on July 21, 1961.

Into the Cosmos


On July 21, 1961, the Mercury-Redstone 4 spacecraft launched from Cape Canaveral, Florida into space with Grissom on board.

Serious Business


At the Mission Control Center at Cape Canaveral, astronauts John Glenn and Gordon Cooper (right) act as spacecraft communicators (CAPCOM) during the Mercury Redstone 4 mission.

The Great Beyond


During the July 21, 1961, flight of the Mercury-Redstone 4 spacecraft, Grissom captured this photo of Earth.



After the Mercury-Redstone 4 capsule splashed down, the hatch opened prematurely, and Grissom escaped as it bobbed briefly atop the waves before sinking.

Unsuccessful Recovery


A U.S. Marine Corps helicopter made an unsuccessful recovery attempt of the Liberty Bell & spacecraft. The hatch opened early, putting Grissom in danger, but he escaped into the water. The helicopter hooked the craft but it was not retrieved and sank. Grissom was recovered by another helicopter and flown safely to the USS Randolph, the prime recovery ship.

Recovery Attempts


During the attempted recovery of the Liberty Bell 7 space capsule, the Marine helicopter was nearly pulled to the surface by the weight of the capsule. The Mercury Redstone 4 craft had filled with water because the hatch opened prematurely.

Priority One


Astronaut Virgil I. Grissom is recovered from the Atlantic Ocean by a U.S. Marine Corps helicopter. The Liberty Bell 7 Mercury spacecraft sank during recovery efforts.

Mission Complete


Grissom, Mercury-Redstone 4 pilot, strolls across the USS Randolph deck with two military medical officers after completion of the 15 minute, 37 second suborbital space mission. His spacecraft, the Liberty Bell 7, was not recovered and sank.

Congrats from the Top


President Kennedy speaks with Grissom, Mercury-Redstone 4 pilot, following completion of the successful suborbital mission. Grissom is still wearing his pressure suit.

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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.