Alan Shepard

Last updated

Alan Shepard
Business suit portrait of Al Shepard.jpg
Alan Bartlett Shepard Jr.

(1923-11-18)November 18, 1923
DiedJuly 21, 1998(1998-07-21) (aged 74)
Alma mater
Occupation Naval aviator, Test pilot, Astronaut
Space career
NASA astronaut
Rank US-O8 insignia.svg Rear Admiral, USN
Time in space
9d 00h 57m
Selection 1959 NASA Group 1
Total EVAs
Total EVA time
9 hours 23 minutes
Missions Mercury-Redstone 3
Apollo 14
Mission insignia
Mercury 3 - Patch.png Apollo 14-insignia.png
RetirementAugust 1, 1974

Alan Bartlett Shepard Jr. (November 18, 1923 – July 21, 1998) was an American astronaut, naval aviator, test pilot, and businessman. In 1961, he became the second man and the first American to travel into space, and in 1971, he walked on the Moon.


A graduate of the United States Naval Academy at Annapolis, Shepard saw action with the surface navy during World War II. He became a naval aviator in 1946, and a test pilot in 1950. He was selected as one of the original NASA Mercury Seven astronauts in 1959, and in May 1961 he made the first crewed Project Mercury flight, Mercury-Redstone 3, in a spacecraft he named Freedom 7. His craft entered space, but was not capable of achieving orbit. He became the second person, and the first American, to travel into space, and the first space traveler to manually control the orientation of his craft. In the final stages of Project Mercury, Shepard was scheduled to pilot the Mercury-Atlas 10 (MA-10), which was planned as a three-day mission. He named Mercury Spacecraft 15B Freedom 7 II in honor of his first spacecraft, but the mission was canceled.

Shepard was designated as the commander of the first crewed Project Gemini mission, but was grounded in 1963 due to Ménière's disease, an inner-ear ailment that caused episodes of extreme dizziness and nausea. This was surgically corrected in 1969, and in 1971, Shepard commanded the Apollo 14 mission, piloting the Apollo Lunar Module Antares. At age 47, he became the fifth, the oldest, and the earliest-born person to walk on the Moon, and the only one of the Mercury Seven astronauts to do so. During the mission, he hit two golf balls on the lunar surface.

Shepard was Chief of the Astronaut Office from November 1963 to July 1969 (the approximate period of his grounding), and from June 1971 until his retirement from the United States Navy and NASA on August 1, 1974. He was promoted to rear admiral on August 25, 1971, the first astronaut to reach that rank.

Early life

Alan Bartlett Shepard Jr. was born on November 18, 1923, in Derry, New Hampshire, [1] to Alan B. Shepard Sr. and Pauline Renza Shepard ( née  Emerson). [2] He had a younger sister, Pauline, who was known as Polly. [3] He was one of many famous descendants of Mayflower passenger Richard Warren. [2] His father, Alan B. Shepard Sr., known as Bart, worked in the Derry National Bank, owned by Shepard's grandfather. Alan Sr. joined the National Guard in 1915 and served in France with the American Expeditionary Force during World War I. [4] He remained in the National Guard between the wars, and was recalled to active duty during World War II, rising to the rank of lieutenant colonel. [5]

Shepard attended Adams School in Derry, where his academic performance impressed his teachers; he skipped the sixth grade, [6] and proceeded to middle school at Oak Street School in Derry, [5] where he skipped the eighth grade. [6] He achieved the Boy Scouts of America rank of First Class Scout. [7] In 1936, he went to the Pinkerton Academy, a private school in Derry that his father had attended and where his grandfather had been a trustee. He completed years 9 to 12 there. [6] Fascinated by flight, he created a model airplane club at the Academy, and his Christmas present in 1938 was a flight in a Douglas DC-3. [8] The following year he began cycling to Manchester Airfield, where he would do odd jobs in exchange for the occasional ride in an airplane or informal flying lesson. [9] [10]

Shepard graduated from Pinkerton Academy in 1940. Because World War II was already raging in Europe, his father wanted him to join the Army. Shepard chose the Navy instead. He easily passed the entrance exam to the United States Naval Academy at Annapolis in 1940, but at sixteen was too young to enter that year. The Navy sent him to the Admiral Farragut Academy, a prep school for the Naval Academy, from which he graduated with the Class of 1941. [11] Tests administered at Farragut indicated an IQ of 145, but his grades were mediocre. [12]

At Annapolis, Shepard enjoyed aquatic sports. He was a keen and competitive sailor, winning several races, including a regatta held by the Annapolis Yacht Club. He learned to sail all the types of boats the academy owned, up to and including USS Freedom, a 90-foot (27 m) schooner. He also participated in swimming, and rowed with the eight. [12] During his Christmas break in 1942, he went to Principia College to be with his sister, who was unable to go home owing to wartime travel restrictions. There he met Louise Brewer, whose parents were pensioners on the du Pont family estate, and, like Renza Shepard, were devout Christian Scientists. [13] [14] Owing to the war, the usual four-year course at Annapolis was cut short by a year. He graduated with the class of 1945 on June 6, 1944, ranked 463rd out of 915, and was commissioned as an ensign and awarded a Bachelor of Science degree. The following month he became secretly engaged to Louise. [15] [16]

"You know, being a test pilot isn't always the healthiest business in the world."

—Shepard quoted at the New Mexico Museum of Space History [17]

After a month of classroom instruction in aviation, Shepard was posted to a destroyer, USS Cogswell, in August 1944; [18] it was US Navy policy that aviation candidates should first have some service at sea. [9] At the time the destroyer was deployed on active service in the Pacific Ocean. Shepard joined it when it returned to the naval base at Ulithi on October 30. [19] After just two days at sea Cogswell helped rescue 172 sailors from the cruiser USS Reno, which had been torpedoed by a Japanese submarine, then escorted the crippled ship back to Ulithi. The ship was buffeted by Typhoon Cobra in December 1944, a storm in which three other destroyers went down, and battled kamikazes in the invasion of Lingayen Gulf in January 1945. [20]

USS Cogswell in 1945 USS Cogswell (DD-651) underway in 1945.jpg
USS Cogswell in 1945

Cogswell returned to the United States for an overhaul in February 1945. Shepard was given three weeks' leave, in which time he and Louise decided to marry. The ceremony took place on March 3, 1945, in St. Stephen's Lutheran Church in Wilmington, Delaware. His father, Bart, served as his best man. The newlyweds had only a brief time together before Shepard rejoined Cogswell at the Long Beach Navy Yard on April 5, 1945. [21] After the war, they had two children, both daughters: Laura, born in 1947, [22] and Julie, born in 1951. [23] Following the death of Louise's sister in 1956, they raised her five-year-old niece, Judith Williams—whom they renamed Alice to avoid confusion with Julie—as their own, although they never adopted her. [24] [25] They eventually had six grandchildren. [26]

On Shepard's second cruise with Cogswell, he was appointed a gunnery officer, responsible for the 20 mm and 40 mm antiaircraft guns on the ship's bow. They engaged kamikazes in the Battle of Okinawa, where the ship served in the dangerous role of a radar picket. The job of the radar pickets was to warn the fleet of incoming kamikazes, but because they were often the first ships sighted by incoming Japanese aircraft, they were also the most likely ships to be attacked. Cogswell performed this duty from May 27, 1945, until June 26, when it rejoined Task Force 38. The ship also participated in the Allied naval bombardments of Japan, and was present in Tokyo Bay for the Surrender of Japan in September 1945. Shepard returned to the United States later that month. [19] [27]

Shepard as a student aviator in 1946 Alan Shepard as a student aviator - higher contrast.jpg
Shepard as a student aviator in 1946

In November 1945, Shepard arrived at Naval Air Station Corpus Christi in Texas, where he commenced basic flight training on January 7, 1946. [28] He was an average student, and for a time faced being "bilged" (dropped) from flight training and reassigned to the surface navy. To make up for this, he took private lessons at a local civilian flying school—something the Navy frowned on—earning a civil pilot's license. [29] His flying skills gradually improved, and by early 1947 his instructors rated him above average. He was sent to Naval Air Station Pensacola in Florida for advanced training. His final test was six perfect landings on the carrier USS Saipan. The following day, he received his naval aviator wings, which his father pinned on his chest. [30]

Shepard was assigned to Fighter Squadron 42 (VF-42), flying the Vought F4U Corsair. The squadron was nominally based on the aircraft carrier USS Franklin D. Roosevelt, but the ship was being overhauled at the time Shepard arrived, and in the meantime the squadron was based at Naval Air Station Norfolk in Virginia. He departed on his first cruise, of the Caribbean, on Franklin D. Roosevelt with VF-42 in 1948. Most of the aviators were, like Shepard, on their first assignment. Those who were not were given the opportunity to qualify for night landings on a carrier, a dangerous maneuver, especially in a Corsair, which had to bank sharply on approach. Shepard managed to persuade his squadron commander to allow him to qualify as well. After briefly returning to Norfolk, the carrier set out on a nine-month tour of the Mediterranean Sea. He earned a reputation for carousing and chasing women. He also instituted a ritual of, whenever he could, calling Louise at 17:00 (her time) each day. [31]

Normally sea duty alternated with periods of duty ashore. In 1950, Shepard was selected to attend the United States Naval Test Pilot School at Naval Air Station Patuxent River in Maryland. [32] As a test pilot he conducted high-altitude tests to obtain information about the light and air masses at different altitudes over North America; carrier suitability certification of the McDonnell F2H Banshee; experiments with the Navy's new in-flight refueling system; and tests of the angled flight deck. [16] He narrowly avoided being court-martialed by the station commander, Rear Admiral Alfred M. Pride, after looping the Chesapeake Bay Bridge and making low passes over the beach at Ocean City, Maryland, and the base; but Shepard's superiors, John Hyland and Robert M. Elder, interceded on his behalf. [33]

Shepard's 105th F4U sortie on USS Franklin D. Roosevelt Alan Shepard's 105th Sortie with F4U-4 on USS Franklin D. Roosevelt.jpg
Shepard's 105th F4U sortie on USS Franklin D. Roosevelt

Shepard's next assignment was to VF-193, a night fighter squadron flying the Banshee, that was based at Naval Air Station Moffett Field, California. The squadron was part of Commander James D. "Jig Dog" Ramage's Air Group 19. Naval aviators with experience in jet aircraft were still relatively rare, and Ramage specifically requested Shepard's assignment on the advice of Elder, who commanded VF-193's sister squadron, VF-191. Ramage made Shepard his own wingman, [34] a decision that would save Ramage's life in 1954, when his oxygen system failed and Shepard talked him through a landing. [35] As squadron operations officer, Shepard's most important task was imparting his knowledge of flying jets to his fellow aviators to keep them alive. He served two tours on the aircraft carrier USS Oriskany in the western Pacific. It set out on a combat tour off Korea in 1953, during the Korean War, but the Korean Armistice Agreement ended the fighting in July 1953, and Shepard did not see combat. [36]

Rear Admiral John P. Whitney requested Shepard's services as an aide de camp, but Shepard wanted to fly. Therefore, at Shepard's request, Ramage spoke to the admiral on his behalf, and Shepard was instead sent back to Patuxent. [37] He flight tested the McDonnell F3H Demon, Vought F-8 Crusader, Douglas F4D Skyray and Grumman F-11 Tiger. [38] The Vought F7U Cutlass tended to go into an inverted spin during a snap roll. This was not unusual; many aircraft did this, but normally if the pilot let go of the stick the aircraft would correct itself. When he attempted this in the F7U, Shepard found this was not the case. He was unable to break out of the spin and was forced to eject. In 1957, he was project test pilot on the Douglas F5D Skylancer. Shepard did not like the plane, and gave it an unfavorable report. The Navy canceled orders for it, buying the F8U instead. He also filed an unfavorable report on the F11F after a harrowing incident in which the engine failed on him during a high-speed dive. He managed to restart the engine and avoid a fatal crash. [39]

Shepard was an instructor at the Test Pilot School, and then entered the Naval War College at Newport, Rhode Island. [40] He graduated in 1957, and became an Aircraft Readiness Officer on the staff of the Commander-in-Chief, Atlantic Fleet. [41] By this time he had logged more than 3,600 hours of flying time, including 1,700 hours in jets. [42]

NASA career

Mercury Seven

The Mercury Seven astronauts with a USAF F-106. From left to right: M. Scott Carpenter, Gordon Cooper, John Glenn, Virgil I. Grissom, Walter M. Schirra, Alan B. Shepard and Donald K. Slayton. Mercury Seven astronauts with aircraft.jpg
The Mercury Seven astronauts with a USAF F-106. From left to right: M. Scott Carpenter, Gordon Cooper, John Glenn, Virgil I. Grissom, Walter M. Schirra, Alan B. Shepard and Donald K. Slayton.

On October 4, 1957, the Soviet Union launched Sputnik 1, the first artificial satellite. This shattered American confidence in its technological superiority, creating a wave of anxiety known as the Sputnik crisis. Among his responses, President Dwight D. Eisenhower launched the Space Race. The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) was established on October 1, 1958, as a civilian agency to develop space technology. One of its first initiatives was publicly announced on December 17, 1958. This was Project Mercury, [43] which aimed to launch a man into Earth orbit, return him safely to the Earth, and evaluate his capabilities in space. [44]

NASA received permission from Eisenhower to recruit its first astronauts from the ranks of military test pilots. The service records of 508 graduates of test pilot schools were obtained from the United States Department of Defense. From these, 110 were found that matched the minimum standards: [45] the candidates had to be younger than 40, possess a bachelor's degree or equivalent and to be 5 feet 11 inches (1.80 m) or less. While these were not all strictly enforced, the height requirement was firm, owing to the size of the Project Mercury spacecraft. [46] The 110 were then split into three groups, with the most promising in the first group. [47]

The first group of 35, which included Shepard, assembled at the Pentagon on February 2, 1959. The Navy and Marine Corps officers were welcomed by the Chief of Naval Operations, Admiral Arleigh Burke, while the United States Air Force officers were addressed by the Chief of Staff of the United States Air Force, General Thomas D. White. Both pledged their support to the Space Program, and promised that the careers of volunteers would not be adversely affected. NASA officials then briefed them on Project Mercury. They conceded that it would be a hazardous undertaking, but emphasized that it was of great national importance. That evening, Shepard discussed the day's events with fellow naval aviators Jim Lovell, Pete Conrad and Wally Schirra, all of whom would eventually become astronauts. They were concerned about their careers, but decided to volunteer. [48] [49]

The briefing process was repeated with a second group of 34 candidates a week later. Of the 69, six were found to be over the height limit, 15 were eliminated for other reasons, and 16 declined. This left NASA with 32 candidates. Since this was more than expected, NASA decided not to bother with the remaining 41 candidates, as 32 candidates seemed a more than adequate number from which to select 12 astronauts as planned. The degree of interest also indicated that far fewer would drop out during training than anticipated, which would result in training astronauts who would not be required to fly Project Mercury missions. It was therefore decided to cut the number of astronauts selected to just six. [50] Then came a grueling series of physical and psychological tests at the Lovelace Clinic and the Wright Aerospace Medical Laboratory. [51] Only one candidate, Lovell, was eliminated on medical grounds at this stage, and the diagnosis was later found to be in error; [52] thirteen others were recommended with reservations. The director of the NASA Space Task Group, Robert R. Gilruth, found himself unable to select only six from the remaining eighteen, and ultimately seven were chosen. [52]

Shepard was informed of his selection on April 1, 1959. Two days later he traveled to Boston with Louise for the wedding of his cousin Anne, and was able to break the news to his parents and sister. [53] [54] The identities of the seven were announced at a press conference at Dolley Madison House in Washington, D.C., on April 9, 1959: [55] Scott Carpenter, Gordon Cooper, John Glenn, Gus Grissom, Wally Schirra, Alan Shepard, and Deke Slayton. [56] The magnitude of the challenge ahead of them was made clear a few weeks later, on the night of May 18, 1959, when the seven astronauts gathered at Cape Canaveral to watch their first rocket launch, of an SM-65D Atlas, which was similar to the one that was to carry them into orbit. A few minutes after liftoff, it spectacularly exploded, lighting up the night sky. The astronauts were stunned. Shepard turned to Glenn and said: "Well, I'm glad they got that out of the way." [57]

Freedom 7

Shepard in the Freedom 7 capsule before launch Alan Shepard in capsule aboard Freedom 7 before launch.jpg
Shepard in the Freedom 7 capsule before launch

Faced with intense competition from the other astronauts, particularly John Glenn, Shepard quit smoking and adopted Glenn's habit of taking a morning jog. [58] On January 19, 1961, Robert R. Gilruth, the director of NASA's Space Task Group, informed the seven astronauts that Shepard had been chosen for the first American crewed mission into space. [59] Shepard later recalled Louise's response when he told her that she had her arms around the man who would be the first man in space: "Who let a Russian in here?" [60] During training he flew 120 simulated flights. [61] Although this flight was originally scheduled for April 26, 1960, [62] it was postponed several times by unplanned preparatory work, initially to December 5, 1960, then mid-January 1961, [63] March 6, 1961, [64] April 25, 1961, [65] May 2, 1961, and finally to May 5, 1961. [66] On April 12, 1961, Soviet cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin became the first person in space, and the first to orbit the Earth. [67] It was another body blow to American pride. [64] When Shepard heard the news he slammed his fist down on a table so hard a NASA public relations officer feared he might have broken his hand. [68]

On May 5, 1961, Shepard piloted the Mercury-Redstone 3 mission and became the second person, and the first American, to travel into space. [69] He named his spacecraft, Mercury Spacecraft 7, Freedom 7. [64] He awoke at 01:10, and had breakfast consisting of orange juice, a filet mignon wrapped in bacon, and scrambled eggs with his backup, John Glenn, and flight surgeon William K. Douglas. He was helped into his space suit by suit technician Joseph W. Schmitt, and boarded the transfer van at 03:55. He ascended the gantry at 05:15, and entered the spacecraft five minutes later. It was expected that lift off would occur in another two hours and five minutes, [70] so Shepard's suit did not have any provision for elimination of bodily wastes, but after being strapped into the capsule's seat, launch delays kept him in that suit for over four hours. [71] Shepard's endurance gave out before launch, and he was forced to empty his bladder into the suit. Medical sensors attached to it to track the astronaut's condition in flight were turned off to avoid shorting them out. The urine pooled in the small of his back, where it was absorbed by his undergarment. [72] [73] After Shepard's flight, the space suit was modified, and by the time of Gus Grissom's Mercury-Redstone 4 suborbital flight in July, a liquid waste collection feature had been built into the suit. [74]

Unlike Gagarin's 108-minute orbital flight in a Vostok spacecraft three times the size of Freedom 7, [67] Shepard stayed on a suborbital trajectory for the 15-minute flight, which reached an altitude of 101.2 nautical miles (116.5 statute miles; 187.4 kilometers), and then fell to a splashdown 263.1 nautical miles (302.8 statute miles; 487.3 kilometers) down the Atlantic Missile Range. [75] Unlike Gagarin, whose flight was strictly automatic, Shepard had some control of Freedom 7, spacecraft attitude in particular. [76] Shepard's launch was seen live on television by millions. [77] It was launched atop a Redstone rocket. According to Gene Kranz in his 2000 book Failure Is Not an Option , "When reporters asked Shepard what he thought about as he sat atop the Redstone rocket, waiting for liftoff, he had replied, 'The fact that every part of this ship was built by the lowest bidder.'" [78]

Marine Corps HUS-1 helicopter from HMR-262 retrieves Freedom 7 from the Atlantic Alan Shepard 1961.jpg
Marine Corps HUS-1 helicopter from HMR-262 retrieves Freedom 7 from the Atlantic

After a dramatic Atlantic Ocean recovery, Shepard observed that he "didn't really feel the flight was a success until the recovery had been successfully completed. It's not the fall that hurts; it's the sudden stop." [79] Splashdown occurred with an impact comparable to landing a jet aircraft on an aircraft carrier. A recovery helicopter arrived after a few minutes, and the capsule was lifted partly out of the water to allow Shepard to leave by the main hatch. He squeezed out of the door and into a sling hoist, and was pulled into the helicopter, which flew both the astronaut and spacecraft to the aircraft carrier USS Lake Champlain. The whole recovery process took just eleven minutes. [80] Shepard was celebrated as a national hero, honored with ticker-tape parades in Washington, New York and Los Angeles, and received the NASA Distinguished Service Medal from President John F. Kennedy. [81] He was also awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross. [82]

Shepard served as capsule communicator (CAPCOM) for Glenn's Mercury-Atlas 6 orbital flight, which he had also been considered for, [83] and Carpenter's Mercury-Atlas 7. [84] He was the backup pilot for Cooper for the Mercury-Atlas 9 mission, [85] nearly replacing Cooper after Cooper flew low over the NASA administration building at Cape Canaveral in an F-102. [86] In the final stages of Project Mercury, Shepard was scheduled to pilot the Mercury-Atlas 10 (MA-10), which was planned as a three-day mission. [87] He named Mercury Spacecraft 15B Freedom 7 II in honor of his first spacecraft, and had the name painted on it, [88] but on June 12, 1963, NASA Administrator James E. Webb announced that Mercury had accomplished all its goals and no more missions would be flown. [87] Shepard went as far as making a personal appeal to President Kennedy, but to no avail. [89]

Project Gemini; Chief Astronaut

Shepard and his wife Louise meet First Lady Jacqueline Kennedy, President John F. Kennedy and Vice President Lyndon B. Johnson at the South Portico of the White House KN-C17754. Guests Arrive for Presentation Ceremony of the NASA Distinguished Service Medal to Astronaut Commander Alan B. Shepard, Jr.jpg
Shepard and his wife Louise meet First Lady Jacqueline Kennedy, President John F. Kennedy and Vice President Lyndon B. Johnson at the South Portico of the White House

Project Gemini followed on from Project Mercury. [90] After the Mercury-Atlas 10 mission was canceled, Shepard was designated as the commander of the first crewed Gemini mission, with Thomas P. Stafford chosen as his pilot. [91] In late 1963, Shepard began to experience episodes of extreme dizziness and nausea, accompanied by a loud, clanging noise in the left ear. He tried to keep it secret, fearing that he would lose his flight status, but was aware that if an episode occurred in the air or in space it could be fatal. Following an episode during a lecture in Houston, where he had recently moved from Virginia Beach, Virginia, Shepard was forced to confess his ailment to Slayton, who was now Director of Flight Operations, and seek help from NASA's doctors. [92]

The doctors diagnosed Ménière's disease, a condition in which fluid pressure builds up in the inner ear. This syndrome causes the semicircular canals and motion detectors to become extremely sensitive, resulting in disorientation, dizziness, and nausea. There was no known cure, but in about 20 percent of cases the condition went away by itself. They prescribed diuretics in an attempt to drain the fluid from the ear. They also diagnosed glaucoma. An X-ray found a lump on his thyroid, and on January 17, 1964, surgeons at Hermann Hospital made an incision on his throat and removed 20 percent of his thyroid. [93] [94] The condition caused Shepard to be removed from flight status. Grissom and John Young flew Gemini 3 instead. [95]

Shepard was designated Chief of the Astronaut Office in November 1963, receiving the title of Chief Astronaut. [96] He thereby became responsible for NASA astronaut training. This involved the development of appropriate training programs for all astronauts and the scheduling of training of individual astronauts for specific missions and roles. He provided and coordinated astronaut input into mission planning and the design of spacecraft and other equipment to be used by astronauts on space missions. [88] He also was on the selection panel for the NASA Astronaut Group 5 in 1966. [97] He spent much of his time investing in banks, wildcatting, and real estate. He became part owner and vice president of Baytown National Bank and would spend hours on the phone in his NASA office overseeing it. He also bought a partnership in a ranch in Weatherford, Texas, that raised horses and cattle. [98] During this period, his secretary Gaye Alford had two "mood-of-the-day" photographs taken of Shepard, one of a smiling Al Shepard, and the other of a grim-looking Commander Shepard. To warn visitors of Shepard's mood, she would hang the appropriate photograph on the door of her boss's private office. [99] Tom Wolfe characterized Shepard's dual personalities as "Smilin' Al" and the "Icy Commander". [100]

Apollo program

The crew of Apollo 14: Edgar Mitchell, Shepard and Stuart Roosa Apollo14 crew high resolution.jpg
The crew of Apollo 14: Edgar Mitchell, Shepard and Stuart Roosa

In 1968, Stafford went to Shepard's office and told him that an otologist in Los Angeles had developed a cure for Ménière's disease. Shepard flew to Los Angeles, where he met with William F. House. House proposed to open Shepard's mastoid bone and make a tiny hole in the endolymphatic sac. A small tube was inserted to drain excess fluid. The surgery was conducted in early 1969 at St. Vincent's Hospital in Los Angeles, where Shepard checked in under the pseudonym of Victor Poulos. [88] [101] The surgery was successful, and he was restored to full flight status on May 7, 1969. [88]

Shepard and Slayton put Shepard down to command the next available Moon mission, which was Apollo 13 in 1970. Under normal circumstances, this assignment would have gone to Cooper, as the backup commander of Apollo 10, but Cooper was not given it. A rookie, Stuart Roosa, was designated the Command Module Pilot. Shepard asked for Jim McDivitt as his Lunar Module Pilot, but McDivitt, who had already commanded the Apollo 9 mission, balked at the prospect, arguing that Shepard did not have sufficient Apollo training to command a Moon mission. A rookie, Edgar Mitchell, was designated the Lunar Module Pilot instead. [102] [103]

Shepard in front of the Lunar Landing Research Vehicle during training for Apollo 14 Alan Shepard during training for the Apollo 14 mission.jpg
Shepard in front of the Lunar Landing Research Vehicle during training for Apollo 14

When Slayton submitted the proposed crew assignments to NASA headquarters, George Mueller turned them down on the grounds that the crew was too inexperienced. So Slayton asked Jim Lovell, who had been the backup commander for Apollo 11, and was slated to command Apollo 14, if his crew would be willing to fly Apollo 13 instead. He agreed to do so, and Shepard's crew was assigned to Apollo 14. [102] [103]

Neither Shepard nor Lovell expected there would be much difference between Apollo 13 and Apollo 14, [102] but Apollo 13 went disastrously wrong. An oxygen tank explosion caused the Moon landing to be aborted and nearly resulted in the loss of the crew. It became a joke between Shepard and Lovell, who would offer to give Shepard back the mission each time they bumped into each other. The failure of Apollo 13 delayed Apollo 14 until 1971 so that modifications could be made to the spacecraft. The target of the Apollo 14 mission was switched to the Fra Mauro formation, the intended destination of Apollo 13. [104]

Shepard made his second space flight as Commander of Apollo 14 from January 31 to February 9, 1971. It was America's third successful lunar landing mission. Shepard piloted the Lunar Module Antares. [105] He became the fifth and, at the age of 47, the oldest man to walk on the Moon, and the only one of the Mercury Seven astronauts to do so. [106] [107]

This was the first mission to broadcast extensive color television coverage from the lunar surface, using the Westinghouse Lunar Color Camera. (The same color camera model was used on Apollo 12 and provided about 30 minutes of color telecasting before it was inadvertently pointed at the Sun, ending its usefulness.) While on the Moon, Shepard used a Wilson six-iron head attached to a lunar sample scoop handle to drive golf balls. [105] Despite thick gloves and a stiff spacesuit, which forced him to swing the club with one hand, Shepard struck two golf balls, driving the second, as he jokingly put it, "miles and miles and miles". [108] Analysis of high-resolution film scans of the event determined the distance to be about 24 yards (22 m) for the first shot and 40 yards (37 m) for the second. [109] [110]

Shepard poses next to the American flag on the Moon during Apollo 14 Apollo 14 Shepard.jpg
Shepard poses next to the American flag on the Moon during Apollo 14

For this mission Shepard was awarded the NASA Distinguished Service Medal [111] and the Navy Distinguished Service Medal. His citation read:

The President of the United States of America takes pleasure in presenting the Navy Distinguished Service Medal to Captain Alan Bartlett Shepard, Jr. (NSN: 0-389998), United States Navy, for exceptionally meritorious and distinguished service in a position of great responsibility to the Government of the United States, as Spacecraft Commander for the Apollo 14 flight to the Fra-Mauro area of the Moon during the period 31 January 1971 to 9 February 1971. Responsible for the on-board control of the spacecraft command module Kittyhawk and the lunar module Antares in the gathering of scientific data involving complex and difficult instrumentation positing and sample gathering, including a hazardous two-mile traverse of the lunar surface, Captain Shepard, by his brilliant performance, contributed essentially to the success of this vital scientific moon mission. As a result of his skillful leadership, professional competence and dedication, the Apollo 14 mission, with its numerous tasks and vital scientific experiments, was accomplished in an outstanding manner, enabling scientists to determine more precisely the Moon's original formation and further forecast man's proper role in the exploration of his Universe. By his courageous and determined devotion to duty, Captain Shepard rendered valuable and distinguished service and contributed greatly to the success of the United States Space Program, thereby upholding the highest traditions of the United States Naval Service. [82]

Following Apollo 14, Shepard returned to his position as Chief of the Astronaut Office in June 1971. In July 1971 President Richard Nixon appointed him as a delegate to the 26th United Nations General Assembly, a position in which he served from September to December 1971. [88] He was promoted to rear admiral by Nixon on August 26, 1971, the first astronaut to reach this rank, although McDivitt had previously been promoted to brigadier general, an equivalent rank in the Air Force. [112] [113] He retired from both NASA and the Navy on July 31, 1974. [88]

Later years

Shepard in 1995 Alan Shepard.jpg
Shepard in 1995

Shepard was devoted to his children. Frequently, Julie, Laura and Alice were the only astronauts' children at NASA events. He taught them to ski and took them skiing in Colorado. He once rented a small plane to fly them and their friends from Texas to a summer camp in Maine. He doted on his six grandchildren as well. After Apollo 14 he began to spend more time with Louise, and started taking her with him on trips to the Paris Air Show every other year, and to Asia. [114] Louise heard rumors of his affairs. [115] The publication of Tom Wolfe's 1979 book The Right Stuff made them public knowledge, but she never confronted him about it, [116] nor did she ever contemplate leaving him. [114]

After Shepard left NASA, he served on the boards of many corporations. He also served as president of his umbrella company for several business enterprises, Seven Fourteen Enterprises, Inc. (named for his two flights, Freedom 7 and Apollo 14). [117] He made a fortune in banking and real estate. [118] He was a fellow of the American Astronautical Society and the Society of Experimental Test Pilots, a member of Rotary, Kiwanis, the Mayflower Society, the Order of the Cincinnati, and the American Fighter Aces, an honorary member of the board of directors for the Houston School for Deaf Children, and a director of the National Space Institute and the Los Angeles Ear Research Institute. [88] In 1984, together with the other surviving Mercury astronauts, and Betty Grissom, Gus Grissom's widow, Shepard founded the Mercury Seven Foundation, which raises money to provide college scholarships to science and engineering students. It was renamed the Astronaut Scholarship Foundation in 1995. Shepard was elected its first president and chairman, positions he held until October 1997, when he was succeeded by former astronaut Jim Lovell. [88]

In 1994, he published a book with two journalists, Jay Barbree and Howard Benedict, called Moon Shot: The Inside Story of America's Race to the Moon . Fellow Mercury astronaut Deke Slayton is also named as an author. The book included a composite photograph showing Shepard hitting a golf ball on the Moon. There are no still images of this event; the only record is TV footage. [108] The book was turned into a TV miniseries in 1994. [119]

Shepard was diagnosed with chronic lymphocytic leukemia in 1996 and died from complications of the disease in Pebble Beach, California, on July 21, 1998. [120] [121] Among astronauts who had walked on the Moon, he was the second to die (Jim Irwin had been the first, in 1991). [106] Shepard's widow Louise had planned to cremate his remains and scatter the ashes, but before she was able to do that, she herself died from a heart attack—on August 25, 1998, at 17:00, which, coincidentally, was the same time of day at which he had always phoned her when they were apart. They had been married for 53 years. Their family decided to cremate them both, and their ashes were scattered, together, from a Navy helicopter, over Stillwater Cove, in front of their Pebble Beach home. [122] [123]

Awards and honors

Shepard was awarded the Congressional Space Medal of Honor by President Jimmy Carter on October 1, 1978. [124] He also received the Golden Plate Award of the American Academy of Achievement in 1981; [125] the Langley Gold Medal on May 5, 1964; the John J. Montgomery Award in 1963; the Lambert trophy; the SETP Iven C. Kincheloe Award; [126] the Cabot Award; the Collier Trophy; [127] and the City of New York City Gold Medal for 1971. [88] He was awarded honorary degrees of Master of Arts from Dartmouth College in 1962, D.Sc. from Miami University in 1971, and Doctorate of Humanities from Franklin Pierce College in 1972. [88] He was inducted into the National Aviation Hall of Fame in 1977, [128] the International Space Hall of Fame in 1981, [17] [129] and the U.S. Astronaut Hall of Fame on May 11, 1990. [130] [131]

Shepard's memorial stone in Derry, New Hampshire; his ashes were scattered at sea Alanshephardgrave.jpg
Shepard's memorial stone in Derry, New Hampshire; his ashes were scattered at sea

The Navy named a supply ship, USNS Alan Shepard (T-AKE-3), for him in 2006. [132] The McAuliffe-Shepard Discovery Center in Concord, New Hampshire, is named after Shepard and Christa McAuliffe. [133] In 1996, the entirety of I-565 (which passes in front of the U.S. Space & Rocket Center, home to both the Saturn V Dynamic Test Vehicle and a full-scale vertical Saturn V replica) was designated the "Admiral Alan B. Shepard Highway" in his honor. [134] [135] Interstate 93 in New Hampshire, from the Massachusetts border to Hooksett, is designated the Alan B. Shepard Highway, [136] and in Hampton, Virginia, a road is named Commander Shepard Boulevard in his honor. [137] His hometown of Derry has the nickname Space Town in honor of his career as an astronaut. [138] Following an act of Congress, the post office in Derry was designated the Alan B. Shepard Jr. Post Office Building. [139] Alan Shepard Park in Cocoa Beach, Florida, a beach-side park south of Cape Canaveral, is named in his honor. [140] The City of Virginia Beach renamed its convention center, with its integral geodesic dome, the Alan B. Shepard Convention Center. The building was later renamed the Alan B. Shepard Civic Center, and was razed in 1994. [141] At the time of the Freedom 7 launch, Shepard lived in Virginia Beach. [142]

Shepard's high school alma mater in Derry, Pinkerton Academy, has a building named after him, and the school team is called the Astros after his career as an astronaut. [143] Alan B. Shepard High School, in Palos Heights, Illinois, which opened in 1976, was named in his honor. Framed newspapers throughout the school depict various accomplishments and milestones in Shepard's life. Additionally, an autographed plaque commemorates the dedication of the building. The school newspaper is named Freedom 7 and the yearbook is entitled Odyssey. [144] Blue Origin's suborbital space tourism rocket, the New Shepard, is named after Shepard. [145]

In a 2010 Space Foundation survey, Shepard was ranked as the ninth most popular space hero (tied with astronauts Buzz Aldrin and Gus Grissom). [146] In 2011, NASA honored Shepard with an Ambassador of Exploration Award, consisting of a Moon rock encased in Lucite, for his contributions to the U.S. space program. His family members accepted the award on his behalf during a ceremony on April 28 at the U.S. Naval Academy Museum in Annapolis, Maryland, where it is on permanent display. [147] On May 4, 2011, the U.S. Postal Service issued a first-class stamp in Shepard's honor, the first U.S. stamp to depict a specific astronaut. The first day of issue ceremony was held at NASA's Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex. [148]

Each year, the Space Foundation, in partnership with the Astronauts Memorial Foundation and NASA, present the Alan Shepard Technology in Education Award for outstanding contributions by K–12 educators or district-level administrators to educational technology. The award recognizes excellence in the development and application of technology in the classroom or to the professional development of teachers. The recipient demonstrates exemplary use of technology either to foster lifelong learners or to make the learning process easier. [149]

In media


  1. Thompson 2004, p. 7.
  2. 1 2 Burgess 2014, p. 69.
  3. Thompson 2004, p. 8.
  4. Thompson 2004, p. 10.
  5. 1 2 Burgess 2014, p. 70.
  6. 1 2 3 Thompson 2004, pp. 16–18.
  7. "Astronauts With Scouting Experience". U.S. Scouting Service Project. Retrieved May 1, 2019.
  8. Thompson 2004, pp. 20–24.
  9. 1 2 Shepard et al. 2010, p. 64.
  10. Thompson 2004, pp. 24–27.
  11. Thompson 2004, pp. 27–29.
  12. 1 2 Thompson 2004, pp. 36–37.
  13. Thompson 2004, pp. 40–42.
  14. "Well-wishers besiege Alan Shepard family". Eugene Register-Guard. Eugene, Oregon. Associated Press. October 28, 1961. p. 5.
  15. Thompson 2004, p. 56.
  16. 1 2 "Astronaut Bio: Alan B. Shepard, Jr. (REAR ADMIRAL, USN, RET.) NASA ASTRONAUT (DECEASED)" (PDF). National Aeronautics and Space Administration. September 1998. Retrieved June 2, 2021.
  17. 1 2 "International Space Hall of Fame :: New Mexico Museum of Space History :: Inductee Profile". New Mexico Museum of Space History. Retrieved March 4, 2016.
  18. Thompson 2004, p. 57.
  19. 1 2 "Cogswell". Naval History and Heritage Command. Retrieved March 2, 2016.
  20. Thompson 2004, pp. 62–64.
  21. Thompson 2004, pp. 66–68.
  22. Thompson 2004, p. 109.
  23. Thompson 2004, p. 131.
  24. Thompson 2004, pp. 178–179.
  25. "Astronaut's Wife Was Confident" (PDF). North Tonawanda NY Evening News. May 5, 1961. Retrieved February 13, 2017.
  26. Thompson 2004, p. 439.
  27. Thompson 2004, pp. 69–80.
  28. Thompson 2004, pp. 84–87.
  29. Thompson 2004, pp. 90–95.
  30. Thompson 2004, pp. 100–103.
  31. Thompson 2004, pp. 109–114.
  32. Thompson 2004, pp. 124–125.
  33. Thompson 2004, pp. 131–137.
  34. Thompson 2004, pp. 144–148.
  35. Thompson 2004, pp. 167–169.
  36. Thompson 2004, pp. 151–154.
  37. Thompson 2004, pp. 170–172.
  38. Shepard et al. 2010, p. 65.
  39. Thompson 2004, pp. 175–177.
  40. Thompson 2004, pp. 177–181.
  41. Thompson 2004, p. 190.
  42. "Meet the New Men of Space". The Salt Lake Tribune . April 10, 1959. p. 1. Retrieved March 4, 2016.
  43. Burgess 2011, pp. 25–29.
  44. Swenson, Grimwood & Alexander 1966, p. 134.
  45. Atkinson & Shafritz 1985, pp. 36–39.
  46. Burgess 2011, p. 35.
  47. Burgess 2011, p. 38.
  48. Burgess 2011, pp. 46–51.
  49. Atkinson & Shafritz 1985, pp. 40–42.
  50. Atkinson & Shafritz 1985, p. 42.
  51. Atkinson & Shafritz 1985, pp. 43–47.
  52. 1 2 Burgess 2011, pp. 234–237.
  53. Thompson 2004, pp. 196–197.
  54. Shepard et al. 2010, p. 67.
  55. Burgess 2011, pp. 274–275.
  56. Atkinson & Shafritz 1985, pp. 42–47.
  57. Glenn & Taylor 1985, pp. 274–275.
  58. Thompson 2004, pp. 262–269.
  59. Shepard & Slayton 1994, pp. 76–79.
  60. Shepard, Alan (July–August 1994). "First Step to the Moon". American Heritage . 45 (4). ISSN   0002-8738 . Retrieved March 6, 2016.
  61. Swenson, Grimwood & Alexander 1966, p. 343.
  62. Swenson, Grimwood & Alexander 1966, p. 141.
  63. Swenson, Grimwood & Alexander 1966, p. 263.
  64. 1 2 3 Swenson, Grimwood & Alexander 1966, p. 342.
  65. Swenson, Grimwood & Alexander 1966, p. 324.
  66. Swenson, Grimwood & Alexander 1966, p. 350.
  67. 1 2 Swenson, Grimwood & Alexander 1966, pp. 332–333.
  68. Thompson 2004, p. 282.
  69. Burgess 2014, pp. 99–100.
  70. Swenson, Grimwood & Alexander 1966, p. 351.
  71. Swenson, Grimwood & Alexander 1966, p. 341.
  72. Burgess 2014, pp. 131–134.
  73. Shepard & Slayton 1994, p. 107.
  74. Swenson, Grimwood & Alexander 1966, p. 368.
  75. Swenson, Grimwood & Alexander 1966, pp. 352–357.
  76. Burgess 2014, p. 147.
  77. Swenson, Grimwood & Alexander 1966, pp. 360–361.
  78. Kranz 2000, pp. 200–201.
  79. "Events of 1961: U.S. in Space". United Press International . 1961. Retrieved April 18, 2011.
  80. Swenson, Grimwood & Alexander 1966, pp. 356–357.
  81. As World Watched. Spaceman Hailed After U.S. Triumph, 1961/05/08 (1961) (Motion picture). Universal-International Newsreel. 1961. OCLC   709678549 . Retrieved February 20, 2012.
  82. 1 2 "Valor awards for Alan Bartlett Shepard, Jr". Military Times. Retrieved March 7, 2016.
  83. Thompson 2004, pp. 319–322.
  84. Thompson 2004, pp. 328–330.
  85. Burgess 2014, pp. 236–237.
  86. Thompson 2004, pp. 338–339.
  87. 1 2 Swenson, Grimwood & Alexander 1966, p. 492.
  88. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 "Alan B. Shepard Jr". National Aeronautics and Space Administration. Archived from the original on November 3, 2004. Retrieved November 3, 2009.
  89. Thompson 2004, pp. 344–345.
  90. Hacker & Grimwood 1977, pp. 3–5.
  91. Thompson 2004, pp. 345–346.
  92. Thompson 2004, pp. 350–351.
  93. Thompson 2004, pp. 352–354.
  94. Shepard & Slayton 1994, pp. 168–170.
  95. Thompson 2004, p. 366.
  96. Shayler 2001, p. 97.
  97. Burgess 2013, pp. 50–52.
  98. Thompson 2004, pp. 362–363.
  99. Thompson 2004, pp. 359–360.
  100. Wolfe 1979, pp. 172–173.
  101. Thompson 2004, pp. 386–387.
  102. 1 2 3 Thompson 2004, pp. 390–393.
  103. 1 2 Slayton & Cassutt 1994, pp. 235–238.
  104. Thompson 2004, pp. 402–406.
  105. 1 2 "Apollo 14". Apollo to the Moon. Washington, D.C.: National Air and Space Museum. July 1999. Retrieved March 7, 2016.
  106. 1 2 Riley, Christopher (July 10, 2009). "The moon walkers: Twelve men who have visited another world". The Guardian. Retrieved March 7, 2016.
  107. Thompson 2004, p. 407.
  108. 1 2 Jones, Eric M., ed. (1995). "EVA-2 Closeout and the Golf Shots". Apollo 14 Lunar Surface Journal. National Aeronautics and Space Administration. Archived from the original on May 24, 2011. Retrieved May 29, 2011.
  109. Scrivener, Peter (February 4, 2021). "Golf on the moon: Apollo 14 50th anniversary images find Alan Shepard's ball and show how far he hit it". BBC Sport . Retrieved February 4, 2021.
  110. Phelps, Jonathan (February 7, 2021). "How far did Alan Shepard golf balls travel on the moon?". Retrieved July 20, 2021.
  111. "National Aeronautics and Space Administration Honor Awards". National Aeronautics and Space Administration. Retrieved March 7, 2016.
  112. "Alan Shepard Becomes Admiral". The Blade . Toledo, Ohio. August 26, 1971. p. 12. Retrieved August 15, 2013.
  113. Burgess 2014, p. 241.
  114. 1 2 Thompson 2004, pp. 439–440.
  115. Thompson 2004, p. 405.
  116. Thompson 2004, pp. 452–453.
  117. "Alan B. Shepard, Jr". Astronaut Scholarship Foundation. Retrieved August 15, 2013.
  118. Burgess 2014, p. 240.
  119. Drew, Mike (July 11, 1994). "TBS' 'Moon Shot' Rises Above Other TV Fare". Milwaukee Journal . Retrieved August 15, 2013.
  120. Wilford, John Noble (July 23, 1998). "Alan B. Shepard Jr. Is Dead at 74; First American to Travel in Space". The New York Times . Retrieved March 7, 2016.
  121. Thompson 2004, p. 462.
  122. Thompson 2004, pp. 471–472.
  123. "Louise Shepard Dies A Month After Her Astronaut Husband". Chicago Tribune . August 27, 2016. Retrieved April 6, 2016.
  124. "Congressional Space Medal of Honor". National Aeronautics and Space Administration. Retrieved March 7, 2016.
  125. "Golden Plate Awardees of the American Academy of Achievement". American Academy of Achievement.
  126. Wolfe, Tom (October 25, 1979). "Cooper the Cool jockeys Faith 7—between naps". Chicago Tribune. p. 22 via
  127. "Astronauts Have Their Day at the White House". Chicago Tribune. Chicago, Illinois. October 11, 1963. p. 3 via
  128. "National Aviation Hall of fame: Our Enshrinees". National Aviation Hall of Fame. Archived from the original on March 12, 2011. Retrieved February 10, 2011.
  129. Harbert, Nancy (September 27, 1981). "Hall to Induct Seven Space Pioneers". Albuquerque Journal. Albuquerque, New Mexico. p. 53 via
  130. "Alan B. Shepard, Jr. – Astronaut Scholarship Foundation" . Retrieved March 7, 2016.
  131. "Mercury Astronauts Dedicate Hall of Fame at Florida Site". Victoria Advocate. Victoria, Texas. Associated Press. May 12, 1990. p. 38 via
  132. "Navy Christens USNS Alan Shepard". United States Navy. December 7, 2006. Retrieved March 7, 2016.
  133. "McAuliffe-Shepard Discovery Center: About Us". McAuliffe-Shepard Discovery Center . Retrieved March 7, 2016.
  134. "City leaders should find a way to honor Huntsville-born civil rights leader Joseph Lowery (editorial)". January 10, 2012. Retrieved April 2, 2019.
  135. "Interstate 565 west". Retrieved April 2, 2019.
  136. "Alan B Shepard Highway (I-93)" . Retrieved September 25, 2014.
  137. Brauchle, Robert (January 16, 2014). "Commander Shepard Boulevard opens to motorists". Daily Press.
  138. "Derry, NH". Union Leader Corp. Archived from the original on August 30, 2010. Retrieved August 24, 2010.
  139. "H.R.4517". Library of Congress. Archived from the original on August 18, 2013. Retrieved May 29, 2007.
  140. "Cocoa Beach Review". Fodor's. Archived from the original on July 29, 2014. Retrieved August 15, 2013.
  141. Richard Quinn (December 16, 2007). "Sorry, Alan – this golf ball always will be 'The Dome'". The Virginian Pilot.
  142. "Alan Shepard, 1st American in Space, Honored on 50-Year Anniversary". Fox News Channel. May 5, 2011.
  143. Gray, Tara. "Alan B. Shepard, Jr". 40th Anniversary of the Mercury 7. National Aeronautics and Space Administration History Program Office. Archived from the original on December 8, 2006. Retrieved December 29, 2006.
  144. "About Us". Alan B. Shepard High School. Archived from the original on November 6, 2016. Retrieved March 7, 2016.
  145. Gates, Dominic (November 25, 2016). "'Holy Grail of rocketry' achieved, says Amazon and Blue Origin boss Jeff Bezos". The Sydney Morning Herald . Retrieved March 27, 2017.
  146. "Space Foundation Survey Reveals Broad Range of Space Heroes; Early Astronauts Still the Most Inspirational" (Press release). Colorado Springs, Colorado: Space Foundation. October 27, 2010. Archived from the original on July 23, 2012. Retrieved August 15, 2013.
  147. Mirelson, Doc (April 19, 2011). "NASA Honors Pioneer Astronaut Alan Shepard With Moon Rock" (Press release). Washington, D.C.: National Aeronautics and Space Administration. Media Advisory: M11-077. Retrieved August 15, 2013.
  148. Pearlman, Robert Z. (May 4, 2011). "New U.S. Stamps Honor Astronaut Alan Shepard and Mission to Mercury". . Ogden, Utah: TechMedia Network . Retrieved August 15, 2013.
  149. "Alan Shepard Technology in Education Award". Space Foundation. Retrieved February 21, 2017.
  150. Marriott 1992, p. 23.
  151. Benson, Sheila (December 8, 2016). "From the Archives Our original film review of 'The Right Stuff' holds clues for John Glenn's path to senator". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved September 12, 2017.
  152. Richmond, Ray (March 31, 1998). "Review: 'From the Earth to the Moon'". Variety. Retrieved September 12, 2017.
  153. Geraghty 2007, p. 140.
  154. "Mark Moses | 1958". Retrieved September 12, 2017.
  155. Ben Hanson (April 27, 2011). "Casey Hudson Interview: Mass Effect's Feedback Loop". Game Informer . Retrieved May 1, 2013.
  156. Ausiello, Michael (March 19, 2014). "ABC's Astronaut Wives Club Casts Dexter's Desmond Harrington as Alan Shepherd". TV Line. Retrieved March 24, 2014.
  157. "Dane Davenport | Biography and Filmography". Retrieved September 12, 2017.
  158. Iannucci, Rebecca (June 14, 2019). "The Right Stuff: Jake McDorman, GoT Alum Board Nat Geo's NASA Series". TV Line. Retrieved June 16, 2019.

PD-icon.svg This article incorporates  public domain material from the National Aeronautics and Space Administration website .

Related Research Articles

Apollo 11 First crewed space mission to land on the Moon

Apollo 11 was the spaceflight that first landed humans on the Moon. Commander Neil Armstrong and lunar module pilot Buzz Aldrin formed the American crew that landed the Apollo Lunar Module Eagle on July 20, 1969, at 20:17 UTC. Armstrong became the first person to step onto the lunar surface six hours and 39 minutes later on July 21 at 02:56 UTC; Aldrin joined him 19 minutes later. They spent about two and a quarter hours together outside the spacecraft, and collected 47.5 pounds (21.5 kg) of lunar material to bring back to Earth. Command module pilot Michael Collins flew the Command Module Columbia alone in lunar orbit while they were on the Moon's surface. Armstrong and Aldrin spent 21 hours, 36 minutes on the lunar surface, at a site they had named Tranquility Base upon landing, before lifting off to rejoin Columbia in lunar orbit.

Apollo 8 First crewed space mission to orbit the Moon

Apollo 8 was the first crewed spacecraft to leave low Earth orbit, and also the first human spaceflight to reach another astronomical object, namely the Moon, which the crew orbited without landing, and then departed safely back to Earth. These three astronauts—Frank Borman, James Lovell, and William Anders—were the first humans to witness and photograph an Earthrise.

Apollo program 1961–1972 program which landed the first humans on the Moon

The Apollo program, also known as Project Apollo, was the third United States human spaceflight program carried out by the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), which succeeded in preparing and landing the first humans on the Moon from 1968 to 1972. It was first conceived during Dwight D. Eisenhower's administration as a three-person spacecraft to follow the one-person Project Mercury, which put the first Americans in space. Apollo was later dedicated to President John F. Kennedy's national goal for the 1960s of "landing a man on the Moon and returning him safely to the Earth" in an address to Congress on May 25, 1961. It was the third US human spaceflight program to fly, preceded by the two-person Project Gemini conceived in 1961 to extend spaceflight capability in support of Apollo.

Apollo 7 First crewed flight of the Apollo space program

Apollo 7 was the first crewed flight in NASA's Apollo program, and saw the resumption of human spaceflight by the agency after the fire that killed the three Apollo 1 astronauts during a launch rehearsal test on January 27, 1967. The Apollo 7 crew was commanded by Walter M. Schirra, with command module pilot Donn F. Eisele and lunar module pilot R. Walter Cunningham.

Apollo 14 Third crewed mission to land on the Moon

Apollo 14 was the eighth crewed mission in the United States Apollo program, the third to land on the Moon, and the first to land in the lunar highlands. It was the last of the "H missions", landings at specific sites of scientific interest on the Moon for two-day stays with two lunar extravehicular activities.

Frank Borman NASA astronaut

Frank Frederick Borman II is a retired United States Air Force (USAF) colonel, aeronautical engineer, test pilot, businessman, rancher, and NASA astronaut. He was the commander of Apollo 8, the first mission to fly around the Moon, and together with crewmates Jim Lovell and Bill Anders, became the first of 24 humans to do so, for which he was awarded the Congressional Space Medal of Honor. As of 2021, he is the oldest living former American astronaut, eleven days older than Lovell.

Mercury-Redstone 3 First United States human spaceflight, on May 5, 1961

Mercury-Redstone 3, or Freedom 7, was the first United States human spaceflight, on May 5, 1961, piloted by astronaut Alan Shepard. It was the first crewed flight of Project Mercury. The project had the ultimate objective of putting an astronaut into orbit around the Earth and return him safely. Shepard's mission was a 15-minute suborbital flight with the primary objective of demonstrating his ability to withstand the high g-forces of launch and atmospheric re-entry.

David Scott American astronaut

Col. David Randolph Scott, USAF, Ret. is an American retired test pilot and NASA astronaut who was the seventh person to walk on the Moon. The commander of Apollo 15, Scott was selected as an astronaut as part of the third group in 1963. Scott flew three times in space, and is the only living commander of an Apollo mission that landed on the Moon and one of four surviving Moon walkers. Following the deaths of James Irwin in 1991 and Alfred Worden in 2020, Scott is now the last surviving crew member of Apollo 15.

Charles Duke American astronaut

Charles Moss Duke Jr. is an American former astronaut, U.S. Air Force (USAF) officer and test pilot. As lunar module pilot of Apollo 16 in 1972, he became the tenth and youngest person to walk on the Moon, at age 36 years and 201 days.

Scott Carpenter American test pilot, astronaut and aquanaut

Malcolm Scott Carpenter was an American naval officer and aviator, test pilot, aeronautical engineer, astronaut, and aquanaut. He was one of the Mercury Seven astronauts selected for NASA's Project Mercury in April 1959. Carpenter was the second American to orbit the Earth and the fourth American in space, after Alan Shepard, Gus Grissom, and Glenn.

Gordon Cooper American astronaut

Leroy Gordon "Gordo" Cooper Jr. was an American aerospace engineer, test pilot, United States Air Force pilot, and the youngest of the seven original astronauts in Project Mercury, the first human space program of the United States. Cooper learned to fly as a child, and after service in the United States Marine Corps during World War II, he was commissioned into the United States Air Force in 1949. After service as a fighter pilot, he qualified as a test pilot in 1956, and was selected as an astronaut in 1959.

Mercury Seven Group of seven Mercury astronauts

The Mercury Seven were the group of seven astronauts selected to fly spacecraft for Project Mercury. They are also referred to as the Original Seven and Astronaut Group 1. Their names were publicly announced by NASA on April 9, 1959. These seven original American astronauts were Scott Carpenter, Gordon Cooper, John Glenn, Gus Grissom, Wally Schirra, Alan Shepard, and Deke Slayton. The Mercury Seven created a new profession in the United States, and established the image of the American astronaut for decades to come.

Mercury-Atlas 10

Mercury-Atlas 10 (MA-10) was a cancelled early crewed space mission, which would have been the last flight in NASA's Mercury program. It was planned as a three-day extended mission, to launch in late 1963; the spacecraft, Freedom 7-II, would have been flown by Alan Shepard, a veteran of the suborbital Mercury-Redstone 3 mission in 1961. However, it was cancelled after the success of the one-day Mercury-Atlas 9 mission in May 1963, to allow NASA to focus its efforts on the more advanced two-man Gemini program.

NASA Astronaut Group 2 Wikimedia list article

NASA Astronaut Group 2, also known as the Next Nine and the New Nine, was the second group of astronauts selected by NASA. Their selection was announced on September 17, 1962. The nine astronauts were Neil Armstrong, Frank Borman, Pete Conrad, Jim Lovell, James McDivitt, Elliot See, Tom Stafford, Ed White and John Young. Although test pilot experience was still mandatory, the Next Nine were the first group that included civilian test pilots: See had flown for General Electric, and Armstrong had flown the X-15 research plane for NASA. Like the Mercury Seven who had been selected before them, all were married white men with children, and all but one were Protestant. Six of the nine flew to the Moon, and Armstrong, Conrad and Young walked on it as well. Seven of the nine were awarded the Congressional Space Medal of Honor.

NASA Astronaut Group 3 group of astronauts selected by NASA

NASA Astronaut Group 3 - 'The Fourteen' - was a group of fourteen astronauts selected by NASA for the Gemini and Apollo program. Their selection was announced in October 1963. Seven were from the United States Air Force, four from the United States Navy, one was from the United States Marine Corps and two were civilians. Four died in training accidents before they could fly in space. All of the surviving ten flew Apollo missions; five also flew Gemini missions. Buzz Aldrin, Alan Bean, Gene Cernan and David Scott walked on the Moon.

NASA Astronaut Group 4 Group of six astronauts selected by NASA in June 1965

NASA Astronaut Group 4 was a group of six astronauts selected by NASA in June 1965. While the astronauts of the first two groups were required to have an undergraduate degree or the professional equivalent in engineering or the sciences, they were chosen for their experience as test pilots. Test pilot experience was waived as a requirement for the third group, and military jet fighter aircraft experience could be substituted. Group 4 was the first chosen on the basis of research and academic experience, with NASA providing pilot training as necessary. Initial screening of applicants was conducted by the National Academy of Sciences.

NASA Astronaut Group 5 wikimedia list article

NASA Astronaut Group 5 was a group of nineteen astronauts selected by NASA in April 1966. Of the six Lunar Module Pilots that walked on the Moon, three came from Group 5. The group as a whole is roughly split between the half who flew to the Moon, and the half who flew Skylab and Space Shuttle, providing the core of Shuttle commanders early in that program. This group is also distinctive in being the only time when NASA hired a person into the astronaut corps who had already earned astronaut wings, X-15 pilot Joe Engle. John Young labeled the group the Original Nineteen in parody of the original Mercury Seven astronauts.

NASA Astronaut Group 6 Group of eleven astronauts accepted by NASA in 1967

NASA Astronaut Group 6 was a group of eleven astronauts announced by NASA on August 11, 1967, the second group of scientist-astronauts. Although Director of Flight Crew Operations Deke Slayton planned to hire 20 to 30 new scientist-astronauts, he did not expect any to fly because of a surplus of astronauts amid the looming dearth of post-Apollo program funding, exemplified by the concomitant devolution of the Apollo Applications Program into the Skylab Program. NASA found that only 11 of the 923 applicants were qualified, and hired all.

1966 NASA T-38 crash Aviation disaster which killed two astronauts outside St. Louis, Missouri, USA

The 1966 NASA T-38 crash occurred when a NASA Northrop T-38 Talon crashed at Lambert Field in St. Louis, Missouri, on February 28, 1966, killing two Project Gemini astronauts, Elliot See and Charles Bassett. The aircraft, piloted by See, crashed into the McDonnell Aircraft building where their Gemini 9 spacecraft was being assembled. The weather was poor with rain, snow, fog, and low clouds. A NASA panel, headed by the Chief of the Astronaut Office, Alan Shepard, investigated the crash. While the panel considered possible medical issues or aircraft maintenance problems, in addition to the weather and air traffic control factors, the end verdict was that the crash was caused by pilot error.


Preceded by
Office Created

(informally: Deke Slayton)

Chief of the Astronaut Office
Succeeded by
John W. Young
Yuri Gagarin
Man in Space
May 5, 1961
Gus Grissom
Alan Bean
February 5, 1971
Edgar Mitchell