A tribute to the Mercury program

Mercury program insignia

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EN: The Mercury program was the first manned space flight program of the National Aeronautic and Space Agency NASA of the USA. The very main objective was to develop the techniques necessary to put man into space, to let him survey in the vacuum and the cold of space and to return him safely to earth.

The one man Mercury spacecrafts were really some kind of capsules "only" in which the astronauts were in fact more or less passengers only.

The Mercury capsules got proper names, given to them by the astronauts flaying them. Alan Shepard, the first American in space, has named his capsule Freedom 7 where the seven was to indicate that it was the seventh capsule of the Mercury models. Later capsules also got the seven at the end of the names but then is was a hint to the seven first astronauts NASA has selected, "The Original Seven". (The next group of astronauts, was then called the "Next Nine" and a third group was the "Fourteen". Sometimes these three groups are also called the Mercury, Gemini and Apollo groups but that is not the whole truth. Many astronauts flew in more than on of the programs, e.g. Wally Schirra flew Mercury, Gemini and Apollo.) Later in Gemini the astronauts could not give proper names to their spacecraft because of corresponding order, so the names where just Gemini and a number. From Apollo 9 on, when there where the CSM and the LM undocked, proper names became use again for it was quite unhandy to call both spacecrafts when separated by the same Mission name Apollo and mission number.

The Mercury program was successful at all but still the Soviet Union was the leading nation in manned space flight.

Only manned missions are listed. / Nur bemannte Missionen sind gelistet.

Mercury-Redstone 3, Freedom 7
Mercury-Redstone 3, Freedom 7 mission patch Alan Shepard
Alan Shepard 
Lauch:  05-May-1961 14:34:13 UTC
Splashdown:  05-May-1961 14:49:35 UTC
Duration:  00d 00h 15m 22s
Earth orbits:  0
Objectives:  Launch first American into space
 
Mercury-Redstone 4, Liberty Bell 7
Lauch:  21-Jul-1961 12:20:36 UTC
Splashdown:  21-Jul-1961 12:36:13 UTC
Duration:  00d 00h 15m 37s
Earth orbits:  0
Objectives:  Launch another American into space, test improved mercury capsule
Gus Grissom
Gus Grissom 
Mercury-Redstone 4, Liberty Bell 7 mission patch
 
Mercury-Atlas 6, Friendship 7
Mercury-Atlas 6, Friendship 7 mission patch John Glenn
John Glenn 
Lauch:  20-Feb-1962 14:47:39 UTC
Splashdown:  20-Feb-1962 19:43:02 UTC
Duration:  00d 04h 55m 23s
Earth orbits:  3
Objectives:  First American in earth orbit
 
Mercury-Atlas 7, Aurora 7
Lauch:  24-May-1962 12:45:16 UTC
Splashdown:  24-May-1962 17:41:13 UTC
Duration:  00d 04h 55m 57s
Earth orbits:  3
Objectives:  American earth orbit flight with experiments
Scott Carpenter
Scott Carpenter 
Mercury-Atlas 7, Aurora 7 mission patch
 
Mercury-Atlas 8, Sigma 7
Mercury-Atlas 8, Sigma 7 mission patch Wally Schirra
Wally Schirra 
Lauch:  03-Oct-1962 12:15:12 UTC
Splashdown:  03-Oct-1962 21:28:23 UTC
Duration:  00d 09h 13m 11s
Earth orbits:  6
Objectives:  Longer flight with improved capsule, control manoeuvring
 
Mercury-Atlas 9, Faith 7
Lauch:  15-May-1963 13:04:13 UTC
Splashdown:  16-May-1963 23:24:02 UTC
Duration:  01d 10h 19m 49s
Earth orbits:  22
Objectives:  Satellite exposure, scientific experiments, 24 hour duration
Gordo Cooper
Gordo Cooper 
Mercury-Atlas 9, Faith 7 mission patch

DE: Das Mercury Programm war das erste Programm für bemannten Raumflug der Nationalen Luft- und Raumfahrtbehörde NASA der USA. Ziel war die Techniken und Verfahren zu entwickeln und zu testen, um Menschen in den Weltraum zu befördern und wieder sicher auf der Erde zu landen.

In den Ein-Mann Mercury Kapseln war der Astronaut eher nur ein Passagier, konnte kaum Einfluss auf den Flug der Kapsel nehmen.

Die Mercury Kapseln bekamen von den Astronauten Eigennamen. Alan Shepard, der erste Amerikaner im All, nannte seine Kapsel Freedom 7, wobei die Sieben aussagte, dass es die siebente Kapsel der Mercury Baureihe war. Die weiteren Kapseln behielten die Sieben am Ende des Namens, es war nun ein Referenz auf die ersten sieben Astronauten, die die NASA ausgewählt hatte, "The Original Seven". (Die nächste Astornautengruppe waren dann "The Next Nine", die Nächsten Neun, gefolgt von einer dritten Gruppen, den Vierzehn oder "The Fourteen". Manchmal werden diese Gruppen auch die Mercury-, Gemini- und Apollogruppen genannt, was aber der Wahrheit nicht wirklich entspricht, viele Astronauten flogen in mehr als einem Programm, Wally Schirra z.B. flog in Mercury, Gemini und Apollo.) Im späteren Geminiprogramm wurde bestimmt, dass Raumschiffe keine Namen mehr bekommen durften, sie hießen einfach Gemini gefolgt von der Missionsnummer. Ab Apollo 9 kamen die Eigenamen aber wieder, denn es war äußerst unpraktisch die nicht gedockten CSM und LM Raumfahrzeuge beide mit Apollo gefolgt von der Missionsnummer anzusprechen.

Das Mercury Programm war ein voller Erfolg, auch wenn man an seinem Ende immer noch die Sowjetunion als führend in der bemannten Raumfahrt betrachten konnte.