Encyclopedia Astronautica
Mercury



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Mercury June 1958
Langley Mercury capsule layout, June 1958
Credit: NASA
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Mercury Atlas 5
Credit: NASA
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Mercury
Credit: © Mark Wade
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Mercury Proposals
Before Mercury, the US Air Force had a project 'Man in Space Soonest'. This chart summarizes the initial contractor proposals.
Credit: © Mark Wade
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Pigs In Space
Pigs In Space - NASA used pigs to test human survivability in case of a land 'splashdown' by using pigs - they showed no apparent ill effects - truly 'Spam in a Can'.
Credit: NASA
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Mercury Gemini
Comparison of the Mercury and Gemini capsules.
Credit: © Mark Wade
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Gemini 5
Artist concept of Rendezvous Evaluation Pod in orbit with Gemini spacecraft
Credit: NASA
American manned spacecraft. 18 launches, 1960.01.21 (Mercury LJ-1B) to 1963.05.15 (Mercury MA-9). America's first man-in-space project. The capsule had to be as small as possible to match the orbital payload capability of America's first ICBM, the Atlas.

The resulting design was less than a third of the weight of the Russian Vostok spacecraft, and more limited as a result.

Setting the precedent for the later Gemini, Apollo, and Shuttle programs, any capsule configuration proposed by the contractors was acceptable as long as it was the one NASA's Langley facility, and in particular, Max Faget, had developed. McDonnell, at that time a renegade contractor of innovative Navy fighters that had a history of problems in service, received the contract.

While the Vostok was capable of missions of up to a week, the Mercury's final 24 hour mission was barely completed, with virtually all of the spacecraft's systems having broken down by the end. NASA felt lucky to have astronaut Cooper back alive (although the flight demonstrated a pinpoint re-entry was possible with no electrical power, no ECS, no guidance or instruments!) and cancelled Alan Shepard's desired week-long Mercury 10 flight.

Characteristics

Unit Cost $: 5.500 million. Crew Size: 1. Orbital Storage: 1.00 days. Habitable Volume: 1.70 m3. RCS total impulse: 30 kgf-sec. Spacecraft delta v: 98 m/s (321 ft/sec). Electric System: 151.00 kWh. Electric System: 2.16 average kW.

Gross mass: 1,355 kg (2,987 lb).
Unfuelled mass: 1,136 kg (2,504 lb).
Height: 4.03 m (13.22 ft).
Thrust: 13.33 kN (2,997 lbf).
First Launch: 1960.01.21.
Last Launch: 1963.05.15.
Number: 18 .

More... - Chronology...


Associated Countries
Associated Spacecraft
  • Mercury Capsule American manned spacecraft module. 18 launches, 1960.01.21 (Mercury LJ-1B) to 1963.05.15 (Mercury MA-9). Reentry capsule. More...
  • Mercury Retropack American manned spacecraft module. 18 launches, 1960.01.21 (Mercury LJ-1B) to 1963.05.15 (Mercury MA-9). More...

See also
  • Atlas The Atlas rocket, originally developed as America's first ICBM, was the basis for most early American space exploration and was that country's most successful medium-lift commercial launch vehicle. It launched America's first astronaut into orbit; the first generations of spy satellites; the first lunar orbiters and landers; the first probes to Venus, Mars, Mercury, Jupiter, and Saturn; and was America's most successful commercial launcher of communications satellites. Its innovative stage-and-a-half and 'balloon tank' design provided the best dry-mass fraction of any launch vehicle ever built. It was retired in 2004 after 576 launches in a 47-year career. More...
  • Gemini The Gusmobile could have conquered space - faster, better cheaper. An endless number of Gemini derivatives would have performed tasks in earth orbit, and flown around and landed on the moon. Could the US have won the moon and space station races at a fraction of the expense? Browse through the many might-have-been Geminis! More...
  • Little Joe Little Joe was used to test the Mercury capsule launch escape system. The booster was designed by NASA Langley using existing components. Six to eight solid rocket motors were mounted in an aerodynamic finned fairing built by North American. More...
  • Redstone Redstone was the first large liquid rocket developed in the US using German V-2 technology. Originally designated Hermes C. Redstones later launched the first US satellite and the first American astronaut into space. More...

Associated Flights
  • Mercury MA-6 Crew: Glenn. First US manned orbital mission, three orbits. False landing bag deploy light led to reentry being started with retropack left in place. It turned out the indicator light was false, but a spectacular reentry ensued. Backup crew: Carpenter. More...
  • Mercury MA-7 Crew: Carpenter. Second US manned orbital mission. Excessive fuel use and pilot error led to late re-entry, and landing 300 km past the intended point. Capsule ran out of orientation fuel during re-entry. Backup crew: Schirra. More...
  • Mercury MA-8 Crew: Schirra. Most successful American manned space flight to that date, six orbits, returning to earth precisely, with astronaut aboard recovery ship 40 minutes after landing. Speed record (7,850 m/s). Backup crew: Cooper. More...
  • Mercury MA-9 Crew: Cooper. Final Mercury mission, After 22 orbits, virtually all capsule systems failed. Nevertheless the astronaut was able to manually guide the spacecraft to a pinpoint landing. Backup crew: Shepard. More...

Associated Launch Vehicles
  • Atlas The Atlas rocket, originally developed as America's first ICBM, was the basis for most early American space exploration and was that country's most successful medium-lift commercial launch vehicle. It launched America's first astronaut into orbit; the first generations of spy satellites; the first lunar orbiters and landers; the first probes to Venus, Mars, Mercury, Jupiter, and Saturn; and was America's most successful commercial launcher of communications satellites. Its innovative stage-and-a-half and 'balloon tank' design provided the best dry-mass fraction of any launch vehicle ever built. It was retired in 2004 after 576 launches in a 47-year career. More...
  • Redstone Redstone was the first large liquid rocket developed in the US using German V-2 technology. Originally designated Hermes C. Redstones later launched the first US satellite and the first American astronaut into space. More...
  • Jupiter American intermediate range ballistic missile. The Jupiter IRBM was developed for the US Army. By the time development was complete, the mission and the missile was assigned to the US Air Force, which had its own nearly identical missile, the Thor. Jupiters were stationed in Turkey and Italy in the early 1960's, but withdrawn in secret exchange for the withdrawal of Soviet R-5 missiles from Cuba. The Jupiter was used as the first stage of the relatively unsuccessful Juno II launch vehicle, and proposed for the Juno III and Juno IV. Jupiter tooling and engines were used to build the much larger Juno V / Saturn I launch vehicle. More...
  • Atlas D American intercontinental ballistic missile. Rocket used both as a space launcher and ICBM. More...
  • Saturn C-2 American orbital launch vehicle. The launch vehicle initially considered for realizing the Apollo lunar landing at the earliest possible date. 15 launches and rendezvous required to assemble direct landing spacecraft in earth orbit. More...
  • Little Joe Little Joe was used to test the Mercury capsule launch escape system. The booster was designed by NASA Langley using existing components. Six to eight solid rocket motors were mounted in an aerodynamic finned fairing built by North American. More...
  • Redstone MRLV American suborbital launch vehicle. Greatly modified Redstone rocket used to launch the Mercury manned spacecraft on a suborbital trajectory, typically 380 km downrange, 220 km altitude, and a speed of 6800 kph. More...
  • Saturn V American orbital launch vehicle. America's booster for the Apollo manned lunar landing. The design was frozen before a landing mode was selected; the Saturn V could be used for either Earth-Orbit-Rendezvous or Lunar-Orbit-Rendezvous methods. The vehicle ended up with the same payload capability as the 'too large' Nova. The basic diameter was dictated by the ceiling height at the Michoud factory selected for first stage manufacture. More...

Associated Manufacturers and Agencies
  • NASA American agency overseeing development of rockets and spacecraft. National Aeronautics and Space Administration, USA, USA. More...
  • McDonnell American manufacturer of spacecraft. McDonnell, St Louis, USA. More...

Associated Programs
  • Mercury Mercury was America's first man-in-space project. Setting the precedent for the later Gemini, Apollo, and Shuttle programs, any capsule configuration proposed by the contractors was acceptable as long as it was the one NASA's Langley facility, and in particular, Max Faget, had developed. McDonnell, at that time a renegade contractor of innovative Navy fighters that had a history of problems in service, received the contract. The capsule had to be as small as possible to match the payload capability of America's first ICBM, the Atlas, which would be used for orbital missions. The resulting design was less than a third of the weight of the Russian Vostok spacecraft, and more limited as a result. More...

Associated Propellants
  • Solid Solid propellants have the fuel and oxidiser embedded in a rubbery matrix. They were developed to a high degree of perfection in the United States in the 1950's and 1960's. In Russia, development was slower, due to a lack of technical leadership in the area and rail handling problems. Solid propellants have the fuel and oxidiser embedded in a rubbery matrix. They were developed to a high degree of perfection in the United States in the 1950's and 1960's. In Russia, development was slower, due to a lack of technical leadership in the area and rail handling problems. More...

Bibliography
  • McDowell, Jonathan, Jonathan's Space Home Page (launch records), Harvard University, 1997-present. Web Address when accessed: here.
  • JPL Mission and Spacecraft Library, Jet Propulsion Laboratory, 1997. Web Address when accessed: here.
  • Ertel , Ivan D; Morse , Mary Louise; et al, The Apollo Spacecraft Chronology Vol I - IV NASA SP-4009, NASA, 1966-1974. Web Address when accessed: here.
  • Emme, Eugene M, Aeronautics and Astronautics: An American Chronology of Science and Technology in the Exploration of Space 1915-1960, NASA, 1961. Web Address when accessed: here.
  • Emme, Eugene M, Aeronautical and Astronautical Events of 1961 Report of NASA to the Committee on Science and Astronautics US House of Representatives 87th Cong 2d Sess, NASA, 1962. Web Address when accessed: here.
  • Gatland, Kenneth, Manned Spacecraft, Macmillan, New York, 1968.
  • Baker, David, The History of Manned Spaceflight, Crown, New York, 1981.
  • Furniss, Tim, Manned Spaceflight Log, Jane's, London, 1986.
  • Swenson, Grimwood, Alexander, Charles C, This New Ocean, Government Printing Office, 1966. Web Address when accessed: here.
  • Turnill, Reginald,, The Observer's Spaceflight Directory, Frederick Warne, London, 1978.
  • Bramscher, Robert G, "A Survey of Launch Vehicle Failures", Spaceflight, 1980, Volume 22, page 351.
  • Wade, Mark, "World Manned Spacecraft Characteristics", Journal of the British Interplanetary Society, 1981, Volume 34, page 425.
  • Loftus, J P, "An Historical Overview of NASA Manned Spacecraft and their Crew Stations", Journal of the British Interplanetary Society, 1985, Volume 38, page 354.
  • Kraft, Christopher C, editor, Manned Spacecraft: Engineering Design and Operation, NASA, 1968..
  • Lockheed Martin Coporation, Atlas Family Fact Sheets, September 1998.. Web Address when accessed: here.
  • Cassutt, Michael and Slayton, Deke, Deke! U.S. Manned Space: from Mercury to the Shuttle, Tom Doherty Associates, New York, 1994.
  • Kamanin, N P, Skritiy kosmos, Infortext, Moscow, 1995.
  • Grimwood, James M., Project Mercury: A Chronology, NASA Special Publication-4001.
  • Novosti Kosmonavtiki, Issue 200008-68 (via Jonathon McDowell).
  • NASA Report, Preliminary studies of manned satellites : wingless configuration: nonlifting , Web Address when accessed: here.
  • NASA Report, Chronology of Project Mercury , Web Address when accessed: here.
  • NASA Report, Invitation to Apply as Research-Astronaut-Candidate, Web Address when accessed: here.
  • NASA Report, Sample Questions from Project Mercury Tests , Web Address when accessed: here.
  • NASA Report, Press Conference of Mercury Astronaut Team , Web Address when accessed: here.
  • NASA Report, Project Mercury: A Description of the Astronaut’s Task , Web Address when accessed: here.
  • NASA Report, Pressure Suits for Project Mercury Astronauts News Release , Web Address when accessed: here.
  • NASA Report, Project Mercury Monthly Progress Report No. 11, 1-30 Jun. 1960, Web Address when accessed: here.
  • NASA Report, Project Mercury Status Report January 1, 1961, Web Address when accessed: here.
  • NASA Report, Project Mercury Status Report October 31, 1961, Web Address when accessed: here.
  • NASA Report, Project Mercury Status Report April 30, 1962, Web Address when accessed: here.
  • NASA Report, Project Mercury Status Report July 31, 1963, Web Address when accessed: here.
  • NASA Report, Mercury Tracking Sites, Web Address when accessed: here.
  • NASA Report, Design study of a meteoroid experiment using an unmanned Mercury spacecraft, Web Address when accessed: here.
  • NASA Report, Comparison of Free-Flight Measurements of Stability of the Gemini and Mercury Entry Capsules at Mach numbers 3 and 9.5, Web Address when accessed: here.
  • NASA Report, Space Medicine in Project Mercury, Web Address when accessed: here.
  • NASA Report, Technical History of the Environmental Control System for Project Mercury, Web Address when accessed: here.
  • NASA Report, This New Ocean. A History of Project Mercury, Web Address when accessed: here.

Associated Launch Sites
  • Wallops Island Small NASA launch site for sounding rocket launches and occasional Scout launches to orbit. Air launches are conducted from the Drop Zone Wallops Island, 37.00 N 72.0 W. With the last orbital launch in 1985 and the decline in sounding rocket launches, Wallops fell into near-disuse as a launch center. Its fortunes revised with the establishment of Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport in 2005 and orbital launches resumed in 2010. More...
  • Cape Canaveral America's largest launch center, used for all manned launches. Today only six of the 40 launch complexes built here remain in use. Located at or near Cape Canaveral are the Kennedy Space Center on Merritt Island, used by NASA for Saturn V and Space Shuttle launches; Patrick AFB on Cape Canaveral itself, operated the US Department of Defense and handling most other launches; the commercial Spaceport Florida; the air-launched launch vehicle and missile Drop Zone off Mayport, Florida, located at 29.00 N 79.00 W, and an offshore submarine-launched ballistic missile launch area. All of these take advantage of the extensive down-range tracking facilities that once extended from the Cape, through the Caribbean, South Atlantic, and to South Africa and the Indian Ocean. More...
  • Cape Canaveral LC5 Redstone, Jupiter launch complex. Pad 5 supported its first Jupiter A launch on 19 July 1956. In addition to Redstone and Jupiter launches, the complex supported Explorer and Pioneer missions and all six Redstone /Mercury suborbital flights. On 31 January 1964, Complexes 5 and 6 were reassigned to become part of the USAF Space Museum. More...
  • Cape Canaveral LC14 Atlas launch complex. The complex was built for the Atlas ballistic missile program. Launch sites 11 to 14 were accepted between August 1957 and mid-April 1958. After its final Atlas missile launch, Complex 14 was converted into an Atlas /Agena launch complex, and later turned over to NASA. Complex 14 supported 32 Atlas and Atlas/Agena missions, including four manned Mercury missions and seven unmanned Gemini target vehicle launches. Complexes 11, 12 and 14 were deactivated in 1967. Complex 14 and the gantry on Complex 13 were declared national historic landmarks in April 1984. More...
  • Wallops Island LA1 Little Joe, Iris, Astrobee, Aerobee, Little Joe 1 2C launch complex. Aerobee Launcher, Launch Area 1 More...

Mercury Chronology


1956 During the Year - .
  • Use of existing ballistic missiles for manned orbital space flight studied. - . Nation: USA. Spacecraft: Mercury. Summary: Personnel of the NACA were studying the possibilities of utilizing existing ballistic missile boosters, which were then under development, for manned orbital space flight..

1957 November - .
  • Faget presentation on manned orbital flight. - . Nation: USA. Related Persons: Faget. Spacecraft: Mercury. A presentation on manned orbital flight was made by Maxime A. Faget. The concept included the use of existing ballistic missiles for propulsion, solid-fuel retrorockets for reentry initiation, and a nonlifting ballistic shape for the reentering capsule. This concept was considered to be the quickest and safest approach for initial manned flights into orbit.

1958 January 15 - .
  • Eleven proposals for Project 7969 initial manned spacecraft - . Nation: USA. Program: Mercury. Class: Manned. Type: Manned spacecraft. Spacecraft: Mercury. Summary: The Air Force received 11 unsolicited industry proposals for Project 7969, and technical evaluation was started. Observers from NACA participated..

1958 January 29-31 - .
  • Conference reviews concepts for manned orbital vehicles. - . Nation: USA. Related Persons: Faget. Program: Mercury. Spacecraft: Mercury; Project 7969. A conference was held at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio, to review concepts for manned orbital vehicles. The NACA informally presented two concepts then under study at Langley Aeronautical Laboratory: the one proposed by Maxime A. Faget involved a ballistic, high-drag capsule with heat shield on which the pilot lies prone during reentry, with reentry being accomplished by reverse thrust at the apogee of the elliptical orbit involving a deceleration load of about 8g, and proceeding to impact by a parachute landing; the other Langley proposal called for the development of a triangular planform vehicle with a flat bottom having some lift during reentry. At this same meeting there were several Air Force contractor presentations. These were as follows: Northrop, boost-glide buildup to orbital speed; Martin, zero-lift vehicle launched by a Titan with controlled flight estimated to be possible by mid-1961; McDonnell, ballistic vehicle resembling Faget's proposal, weighing 2,400 pounds and launched by an Atlas with a Polaris second stage; Lockheed, a 20 degree semiapex angle cone with a hemispherical tip of 1-foot radius, pilot in sitting position facing rearward, to be launched by an Atlas-Hustler combination; Convair reviewed a previous proposal for a large-scale manned space station, but stated a minimum vehicle - a 1,000-pound sphere - could be launched by an Atlas within a year; Aeronutronics, cone-shaped vehicle with spherical tip of 1-foot radius, with man enclosed in sphere inside vehicle and rotated to line the pilot up with accelerations, and launched by one of several two-stage vehicles; Republic, the Ferri sled vehicle, a 4,000 pound, triangular plan with a two-foot diameter tube running continuous around the leading and trailing edge and serving as a fuel tank for final-stage, solid-propellant rockets located in each wing tip, with a man in small compartment on top side, and with a heat-transfer ring in the front of the nose for a glide reentry of 3,600 miles per hour with pilot ejecting from capsule and parachuting down, and the launch vehicle comprising three stages (also see July 31, 1958 entry); AVCO, a 1,500-pound vehicle sphere launched by a Titan, equipped with a stainless-steel-cloth parachute whose diameter would be controlled by compessed air bellows and which would orient the vehicle in orbit, provide deceleration for reentry, and control drag during reentry; Bell, reviewed proposals for boost-glide vehicles, but considered briefly a minimum vehicle, spherical in shape, weighing about 3,000 pounds; Goodyear, a spherical vehicle with a rearward facing tail cone and ablative surface, with flaps deflected from the cone during reentry for increased drag and control, and launched by an Atlas or a Titan plus a Vanguard second stage; North American, extend the X-15 program by using the X-15 with a three-stage launch vehicle to achieve a single orbit with an apogee of 400,000 feet and a perigee of 250,000, range about 500 to 600 miles and landing in the Gulf of Mexico, and the pilot ejecting and landing by parachute with the aircraft being lost.

1958 January 31 - .
  • USAF proposes NACA participation in the Air Force effort in the manned ballistic rocket program. - . Nation: USA. Program: Mercury. Spacecraft: Mercury; Project 7969. Lieutenant General Donald Putt, Air Force Director of Research and Development, sent a letter to Dr. Hugh Dryden, Director of NACA, inviting NACA participation in the Air Force effort in the manned ballistic rocket program. Dr. Dryden informed the Air Force that NACA was preparing manned spacecraft designs for submission in March 1958.

1958 February 27 - .
  • NACA estimated weights for manned reentry vehicle too low. - . Nation: USA. Spacecraft: Mercury; X-15A. Experience with the X-15 design indicated that many of the weight figures advanced by the Langley Aeronautical Laboratory for the drag or lift configurations of the reentry vehicle (later to become the Mercury spacecraft) were too low, according to Walter C. Williams, Chief of the NACA High-Speed Flight Station. Weights of auxiliary-power fuel, research instrumentation, and cockpit equipment as set by Langley were too low in terms of X-15 experience. Williams stated the total weight should be 2,300 pounds for the drag configuration and 2,500 pounds for the lifting configuration.

1958 March - .
  • Manned satellite development plan studied. - . Nation: USA. Program: Mercury. Spacecraft: Mercury. At the Langley Aeronautical Laboratory, a working committee studied various manned satellite development plans and concluded that a ballistic-entry vehicle launched with an existing intercontinental ballistic missile propulsion system could be utilized fpr the first manned satellite project.

1958 March - .
  • NACA design concepts to achieve manned orbital flights. - . Nation: USA. Related Persons: Gilruth. Spacecraft: Mercury. Robert R. Gilruth, Clotaire Wood, and Hartley A. Soule of NACA transmitted a document to the Air Research and Development Command, which listed the design concepts NACA believed should be followed to achieve manned orbital flights at the earliest possible date. These were: (1) design and develop a simple ballistic vehicle, (2) use existing intercontinental ballistic missile propulsion systems, and (3) use the heat sink method for reentry from orbital conditions.

1958 March 10 - .
  • NACA manned satellite configurations - . Nation: USA. Spacecraft: Mercury. Reports were made on recoverable manned satellite configurations being considered by NACA. One involved a blunt, high-drag, zero-lift vehicle that would depend on a parachute landing for final deceleration. Another was a winged vehicle that would glide to a landing after reentering the atmosphere. The third proposal involved features of each of the above. Besides the configuration studies, significant reports were completed relative to motion and heating, stabilization, and attitude control.

1958 March 10 - .
  • MISS Working Conference - . Nation: USA. Related Persons: Johnson, Caldwell; Schriever. Program: Mercury. Spacecraft: Mercury; Project 7969. A working conference in support of the Air Force 'Man-in-Space Soonest' (MISS) was held at the Air Force Ballistic Missile Division in Los Angeles, California. General Bernard Schriever, opening the conference, stated that events were moving faster than expected. By this statement he meant that Roy Johnson, the new head of the Advanced Research Projects Agency, had asked the Air Force to report to him on its approach to putting a man in space soonest. Johnson indicated that the Air Force would be assigned the task, and the purpose of the conference was to produce a rough-draft proposal. At that time the Air Force concept consisted of three stages: a high-drag, no-lift, blunt-shaped spacecraft to get man in space soonest, with landing to be accomplished by a parachute; a more sophisticated approach by possibly employing a lifting vehicle or one with a modified drag; and a long-range program that might end in a space station or a trip to the moon.

1958 March 12 - .
  • The NACA staff completed a program outline for conducting the manned satellite program. - . Nation: USA. Program: Mercury. Spacecraft: Mercury. At that time, NACA was already actively engaged in research and study of several phases. For example, in the basic studies category effort had been expended on the study of orbits and orbit control, space physical characteristics, configuration studies, propulsion system research, human factors, structures and materials, satellite instrumentation, range requirements, and noise and vibration during reentry and exit. In addition, NACA outlined the complete program covering full-scale studies of mockups, simulators, and detail designs; full-scale vertical and orbiting flights involving unmanned, animal, and manned flights and recovery; and exploitation of the program to increase the payloads. As to the design concepts for such a program, NACA believed that the Atlas launch vehicle was adequate to meet launch-vehicle requirements for manned orbital flights; that retrograde and vernier controllable thrust could be used for orbital control; that heat-sink or lighter material could be used against reentry heating; that guidance should be ground programed with provisions for the pilot to make final adjustments; that recovery should be accomplished at sea with parachutes used for letdown; that a network of radar stations should be established to furnish continuous tracking; and that launchings be made from Cape Canaveral. It was estimated that with a simple ballistic shape accelerations would be within tolerable limits for the pilot. Temperature control, oxygen supply, noise, and vibration were considered engineering development problems, which could be solved without any special breakthroughs.

1958 March 18 - .
  • Preliminary Studies of Manned Satellites, Wingless Configuration, Non-Lifting - . Nation: USA. Related Persons: Faget. Spacecraft: Mercury. An NACA report was published entitled, 'Preliminary Studies of Manned Satellites, Wingless Configuration, Non-Lifting,' by Maxime A. Faget, Benjamine Garland, and James J. Buglia. Later this document became the basic working paper for the Project Mercury development program, and was reissued as NASA Technical Note D-1254, March 1962.

1958 March 18-20 - .
  • NACA Conference on High-Speed Aerodynamics - . Nation: USA. Related Persons: Faget. Spacecraft: Mercury; Dynasoar. An 'NACA Conference on High-Speed Aerodynamics' was held at the Ames Aeronautical Laboratory, Moffett Field, California, to acquaint the military services and industrial contractors interested in aerospace projects with the results of recent research conducted by the NACA laboratories on the subject of space flight. The conference was attended by more than 500 representatives from the NACA, industry, the military services, and other appropriate government agencies. Some 46 technical papers were presented by NACA personnel, and included specific proposals for manned space flight vehicle projects. One of these was presented by Maxime A. Faget. Other papers within the category of manned orbital satellites included: 'Preliminary Studies of Manned Satellites, Wingless Configuration, Lifting Body' by Thomas J. Wong and others; 'Preliminary Studies of Manned Satellites, Winged Configurations' by John V. Becker; 'Preliminary Aerodynamic Data Pertinent to Manned Satellite Reentry Configurations' by Jim A. Penland and William O. Armstrong; and 'Structural Design Considerations for Boost-Glide and Orbital Reentry Vehicles' by William A. Brooks and others.

1958 April - .
  • Faget conceived contour couch to withstand the high g-loads. - . Nation: USA. Related Persons: Faget. Spacecraft: Mercury. Maxime A. Faget and associates conceived the idea of using a contour couch to withstand the high g-loads attendant to acceleration and reentry forces of manned space flight. Fabrication of test-model contour couches was started in the Langley shops in May 1958, and the concept was proved feasible on July 30 of that same year.

1958 June - .
  • Preliminary specifications of the first manned satellite vehicle. - . Nation: USA. Related Persons: Faget. Spacecraft: Mercury. Preliminary specifications of the first manned satellite vehicle were drafted by Langley Aeronautical Laboratory personnel under the supervision of Maxime Faget and Charles W. Mathews. After a number of revisions and additions, these specifications were used for the Project Mercury spacecraft contract with McDonnell Aircraft Corporation. A working group of representatives from the Langley Aeronautical Laboratory and the Lewis Flight Propulsion Laboratory was formed for the purpose of outlining a manned satellite program.

1958 June - .
  • NACA representatives at ARPA - . Nation: USA. Spacecraft: Mercury. Summary: NACA representatives were assigned to the Advanced Research Projects Agency, Manned Satellite Committee..

1958 June 5 - .
  • Advanced Research Projects Agency manned space project. - . Nation: USA. Related Persons: Faget. Program: Mercury. Spacecraft: Mercury. After serving as a liaison officer of NACA and as a participating member of an Advanced Research Projects Agency panel, Maxime A. Faget reported to Dr. Hugh Dryden on resulting studies and attending recommendations on the subject of manned space flight. He stated that the Advanced Research Projects Agency panel was quite aware that the responsibility for such a program might be placed with the soon-to-be-created civilian space agency, although they recommended program management be placed with the Air Force under executive control of NACA and the Advanced Research Projects Agency. The panel also recommended that the program start immediately even though the specific manager was, as yet, unassigned. Several of the proposals put forth by the panel on the proposed development were rather similar to the subsequent evolvement. The system suggested by the Advanced Research Projects Agency was to be based on the use of the Atlas launch vehicle with the Atlas-Sentry system serving as backup; retrorockets were to be used to initiate the return from orbit; the spacecraft was to be nonlifting, ballistic type, and the crew was to be selected from qualified volunteers in the Army, Navy, and Air Force.

1958 June 22 - .
  • NACA space budget - . Nation: USA. Program: Mercury. Spacecraft: Mercury. Summary: NACA personnel discussed the proposed space agency budget, including the manned satellite project, with Bureau of Budget officials..

1958 June 26 - .
  • Materials for thermal protection of satellite reentry vehicles - . Nation: USA. Spacecraft: Mercury. Summary: Meetings were held with NACA, AVCO, and Lockheed representatives in attendance to consider materials for thermal protection of satellite reentry vehicles..

1958 July - .
  • Mercury escape rocket conceived. - . Nation: USA. Related Persons: Faget. Spacecraft: Mercury; Mercury Escape Tower. Summary: The initial concept of the use of a tractor rocket for an escape device was suggested by Maxime A. Faget. The idea was developed into the Mercury escape rocket..

1958 July 9 - .
  • General Electric studies related to manned space flight. - . Nation: USA. Spacecraft: Mercury. General Electric Company personnel presented a briefing at NACA headquarters on studies related to manned space flight. The company held contracts let by the Wright Air Development Center for study and mock-up of a manned spacecraft. NACA made no official comment.

1958 July 15 - .
  • McDonnell manned orbital spacecraft concept. - . Nation: USA. Spacecraft: Mercury; Project 7969. Cook Electric Company submitted a proposal to the McDonnell Aircraft Corporation as a part of a preliminary study and design effort by McDonnell for a manned satellite. McDonnell, prior to being awarded the Mercury prime development contract in February 1959, spent 11 months under a company research budget working on a manned orbital spacecraft concept.

1958 July 18 - .
  • NASA heritage from NACA. - . Nation: USA. Spacecraft: Mercury; X-15A. In a memorandum to Dr. James R. Killian, Jr., Special Assistant to the President for Science and Technology, Dr. Hugh L. Dryden, Director of NACA, pointed out that NASA would inherit from NACA a rich technical background, competence, and leadership in driving toward the objective of a manned satellite program. For years NACA groups had been involved in research on such items as stabilization of ultra-high speed vehicles, provision of suitable controls, high temperature structural designs, and all the problems of reentry. In fact, a part of this work had been directed specifically toward the problem of designing a manned satellite. Also, the X-15 program had provided much experience in human factors applicable to the orbital flight of man. Therefore, Dr. Dryden concluded, in consonance with the intent of the Space Act of 1958, the assignment of the program to the NACA would be consistent.

1958 July 30 - .
  • Test subject withstood a 20g load on the centrifuge using Langley contour couch. - . Nation: USA. Related Persons: Faget. Spacecraft: Mercury. By using the development model of the Mercury contour couch designed by Maxime A. Faget and associates, Carter C. Collins withstood a 20g load on the centrifuge at Johnsville, Pennsylvania. This test proved that the reentry accelerations of manned space flight could be withstood.

1958 July 31 - .
  • Republic Aviation man-in-space studies. - . Nation: USA. Spacecraft: Mercury; Project 7969. Republic Aviation representatives briefed NACA Headquarters personnel on the man-in-space studies in which the company had been engaged since the first of the year. They envisioned a four-stage solid launch vehicle system and a lifting reentry vehicle, which was termed a sled. The vehicle was to be of triangular shape with a 75 degree leading-edge sweep. Aerodynamic and reaction controls would be available to the pilot. For the launch vehicle, Republic proposed a Minuteman first stage, a Polaris first stage, a Minuteman upper stage, and a Jumbo rocket fourth stage. Other details relative to reentry and recovery were included in the briefing.

1958 August - .
  • Eisenhower assigns the manned space flight program to NASA. - . Nation: USA. Related Persons: Eisenhower. Program: Mercury. Spacecraft: Mercury; Project 7969. Summary: President Eisenhower assigned the responsibility for the development and execution of a manned space flight program to the National Aeronautics and Space Administration. However, NASA did not become operational until October 1, 1958..

1958 August 1 - .
  • NACA program on the technology of manned space flight vehicles. - . Nation: USA. Spacecraft: Mercury. Summary: Dr. Hugh L. Dryden, NACA Director, presented a program on the technology of manned space flight vehicles to the Select Committees of Congress on Astronautics and Space Exploration..

1958 August 8 - .
  • Project Adam - . Nation: USA. Spacecraft: Mercury; Adam. A memorandum from the Secretary of the Army to the Secretary of Defense recommended Project Adam for a manned space flight program. This plan proposed a ballistic suborbital flight using existing Redstone hardware as a national political-psychological demonstration. This memo proposed that funds in the amount of $9 million and $2.5 million for fiscal years 1959 and 1960, respectively, be approved for program execution.

1958 September 11 - .
  • Little chance for approval of Project Adam. - . Nation: USA. Spacecraft: Mercury; Adam. Summary: At an Army Advanced Research Projects Agency conference, the Army was advised there was little chance for approval of Project Adam..

1958 September 17 - .
  • NASA/ARPA Manned Satellite Panel - . Nation: USA. Spacecraft: Mercury. A joint National Aeronautics and Space Administration/Advanced Research Projects Agency Manned Satellite Panel was formed. This panel, with the aid of technical studies prepared by the Langley and Lewis Research Centers and assistance from the military services, drafted specific plans for a program of research leading to manned space flight.

1958 October - .
  • Drop tests of full-scale Mercury capsules started - . Nation: USA. Spacecraft: Mercury; Mercury Parachute. Drop tests of full-scale capsules from a C-130 airplane were started to check parachute deployment and spacecraft stability. Preliminary drops of the parachute system were made from a NASA helicopter at West Point, Virginia. These drops involved the use of a concrete-filled drum attached to an operating canister system. The purpose of this phase was to demonstrate the adequacy of the mechanical system of deploying the parachutes. Subsequently, the drops were made by the C-130's at Pope Field, North Carolina, from low levels to perfect a means of extracting the spacecraft from the aircraft. Full-scale spacecraft and operating parachutes were used in these drops, and all operational features of the drop-test program were worked out. The next phase was the research and development drops offshore of Wallops Island, Virginia, and the objectives here were as follows: to study the stability of the spacecraft during free fall and with parachute support; to study the shock input to the spacecraft by parachute deployment; and to study and develop retrieving operations.

1958 October 3-7 - .
  • Plans of the Mercury manned satellite project presented to Advanced Research Projects Agency. - . Nation: USA. Related Persons: Glennan. Program: Mercury. Spacecraft: Mercury. Studies and plans of the manned satellite project were presented to Advanced Research Projects Agency on October 3 and to Dr. T. Keith Glennan, NASA Administrator, on October 7. On October 7, 1958, Dr. Glennan approved the project by saying, in effect, 'Let's get on with it.'

1958 October 7-8 - .
  • Study of Mercury reentry methods. - . Nation: USA. Spacecraft: Mercury; Mercury Heat Shield. Personnel from the Space Task Group involved in the study of reentry methods visited the Air Force Wright Air Development Center, Dayton, Ohio, for the purpose of preparing test specimens. Along with individuals from the center and the Air Force Ballistic Missile Division, the group then met at the Chicago Midway Laboratories, Chicago, Illinois, to investigate various ablation methods of reentry. Concurrently, these same methods were being investigated at high-temperature test facilities at Langley.

1958 October 7 - .
  • Project Mercury organized. - . Nation: USA. Program: Mercury. Class: Manned. Type: Manned spacecraft. Spacecraft: Mercury. NASA formally organized Project Mercury to: (1) place manned space capsule in orbital flight around the earth; (2) investigate man's reactions to and capabilities in this environment; and (3) recover capsule and pilot safely. A NASA Space Task Group organized at Langley Research Center drew up specifications for the Mercury capsule, based on studies by the National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics during the preceding 12 months, and on discussions with the Air Force which had been conducting related studies.

1958 October 9 - .
  • Mercury air drop program for full-scale parachute and landing system development. - . Nation: USA. Program: Mercury. Spacecraft: Mercury; Mercury Parachute. Summary: In behalf of the manned satellite project, an air drop program for full-scale parachute and landing system development was started at Langley..

1958 October 23 - .
  • Preliminary specifications for Mercury manned spacecraft - . Nation: USA. Program: Mercury. Spacecraft: Mercury. Summary: Preliminary specifications for a manned spacecraft were established with industry. These specifications outlined the program and suggested methods of analysis and construction..

1958 November-December - .
  • Study on spacecraft recovery operations. - . Nation: USA. Spacecraft: Mercury. Study was started on spacecraft recovery operations. During this study period, it was learned that the retrieving operation could be very difficult; but with properly designed equipment, helicopter pickup could be used and appeared to be the most favorable method.

1958 November - .
  • Mercury scale model transonic tests. - . Nation: USA. Program: Mercury. Spacecraft: Mercury; Mercury Escape Tower. Summary: A scale model of the Mercury spacecraft (without escape tower), oriented for the reentry phase, was tested at transonic Mach numbers in a 1-foot transonic test tunnel at the Arnold Engineering Development Center, Tullahoma, Tennessee..

1958 November 5 - .
  • Space Task Group (STG) organized to implement the manned satellite project - . Nation: USA. Related Persons: Glennan; Gilruth. Program: Apollo. Spacecraft: Mercury. The Space Task Group (STG) was officially organized at Langley Field, Va., to implement the manned satellite project (later Project Mercury), NASA Administrator T. Keith Glennan had approved the formation of the Group, which had been working together for some months, on October 7. Its members were designated on November 3 by Robert R. Gilruth, Project Manager, and authorization was given by Floyd L. Thompson, Acting Director of Langley Research Center. STG would report directly to NASA Headquarters.

1958 November 7 - .
  • Contractor briefing on the Mercury manned spacecraft - . Nation: USA. Program: Mercury. Spacecraft: Mercury. A contractor briefing, attended by some 40 prospective bidders on the manned spacecraft, was held at the Langley Research Center. More detailed specifications were then prepared and distributed to about 20 manufacturers who had stated an intention to bid on the project.

1958 November 14 - .
  • Specifications for Mercury issued. - . Nation: USA. Program: Mercury. Spacecraft: Mercury. Summary: Specifications for the manned spacecraft (Specification Number S-6) were issued, and final copies were mailed on November 17, 1958, to 20 firms which had indicated a desire to be considered as bidders..

1958 November 14 - .
  • Twenty firms to bid on Mercury spacecraft. - . Nation: USA. Program: Mercury. Spacecraft: Mercury. Summary: Twenty firms notified the National Aeronautics and Space Administration of their intention to prepare proposals for the development of the manned spacecraft. NASA set the deadline for proposal submission as December 11, 1958..

1958 November 26 - .
  • Project Mercury named. - . Nation: USA. Program: Mercury. Class: Manned. Type: Manned spacecraft. Spacecraft: Mercury. Summary: Project Mercury, U.S. manned-satellite program, was officially named by NASA..

1958 December - .
  • Mercury Manned Space Capsule Source Selection Board. - . Nation: USA. Program: Mercury. Spacecraft: Mercury. Summary: A draft checklist entitled 'Overall Technical Assessment of Proposals for Manned Space Capsule,' was prepared by the Space Task Group for use by the Source Selection Board..

1958 December 11 - .
  • Eleven firms submitted proposals for the development of Mercury manned spacecraft. - . Nation: USA. Program: Mercury. Spacecraft: Mercury. Summary: These were AVCO, Chance-Vought, Convair, Douglas, Grumman, Lockheed, Martin, McDonnell, North American, Northrop, and Republic. In addition, Winzen Research Laboratories submitted an incomplete proposal..

1958 December 12 - .
  • Mercury technical proposal assessment - . Nation: USA. Program: Mercury. Spacecraft: Mercury. Summary: Space Task Group personnel began technical assessment of manned spacecraft development proposals submitted by industry. Charles Zimmermann headed the technical assessment team..

1958 December 17 - .
  • Project Mercury named - . Nation: USA. Related Persons: Glennan. Program: Mercury. Spacecraft: Mercury. Summary: NASA Administrator T. Keith Glennan announced that the manned satellite program would be called "Project Mercury.".

1958 December 30 - .
  • Space Task Group evaluation of industry proposals for Mercury. - . Nation: USA. Program: Mercury. Spacecraft: Mercury. Summary: Space Task Group's technical assessment teams completed the evaluation of industry proposals for design and construction of a manned spacecraft and forwarded their findings to the Source Selection Board, NASA Headquarters..

1959 January - .
  • Honeywell named subcontractor for the Mercury stabilization system. - . Nation: USA. Program: Mercury. Spacecraft: Mercury. McDonnell, as prime contractor, selected Minneapolis-Honeywell as subcontractor for the Mercury stabilization system. At that time, other subcontractors were under consideration for the fabrication of various components: Bell Aircraft Rockets Division, reaction control system; and General Electric, Barnes Instruments, and Detroit Controls were being considered for fabrication of the horizon scanner. Later Bell and Barnes were awarded contracts for respective components.

1959 January - .
  • Balloon flights planned for Mercury. - . Nation: USA. Program: Mercury. Spacecraft: Mercury; Mercury Parachute. Balloon flights were planned for high-altitude qualification tests of the complete spacecraft, including all instrumentation, retrorockets, drogue parachute system, and recovery. Later balloon flights would be manned to provide as much as 24 hours of training followed by recovery at sea. The Space Task Group made surveys of organizations experienced in the balloon field and recommended that the Air Force Cambridge Research Center be given responsibilities for designing, contracting, and conducting the balloon program.

1959 January-July - .
  • Arnold Engineering Development Center Project Mercury work. - . Nation: USA. Program: Mercury. Spacecraft: Mercury. Investigations were conducted at the Arnold Engineering Development Center, Tullahoma, Tennessee, in support of Project Mercury. Models of the Mercury spacecraft were tested at speeds of Mach 8, 16, and 20 to investigate stability, heat transfer, and pressure distribution of Mercury components.

1959 January 6 - .
  • Mercury spacecraft heat protection. - . Nation: USA. Spacecraft: Mercury; Mercury Heat Shield. A meeting was held at the National Aeronautics and Space Administration Headquarters to discuss the method for spacecraft heat protection. Two plans were considered: beryllium heat sink and ablation. Based on this meeting a decision was made to modify the spacecraft structure in order to accomodate interchangeably ablation heat shields and beryllium heat sinks , and orders were placed for 12 and 6, respectively. The material chosen for the ablation heat was Fiberglas bonded with a modified phenolic resin. This material was found to have good structural properties even after being subjected to reentry heating.

1959 January 9 - .
  • McDonnell selected to produce the Mercury spacecraft. - . Nation: USA. Related Persons: Glennan; Silverstein. Program: Mercury. Spacecraft: Mercury. The Source Selection Board at NASA Headquarters composed of Abe Silverstein, Ralph Cushman, George Low, Walter Schier, DeMarquis Wyatt, and Charles Zimmerman, completed their findings and reported to Dr. T. Keith Glennan, the Administrator. McDonnell Aircraft Corporation was selected as the prime contractor to develop and produce the Mercury spacecraft.

1959 January 12 - .
  • McDonnell awarded contract for Mercury project - . Nation: USA. Program: Mercury. Class: Manned. Type: Manned spacecraft. Spacecraft: Mercury. Summary: 12 capsules to be built. Other leading contender was Grumman. Original schedule was for manned flights from January - August 1960..

1959 January 14 - .
  • Preliminary negotiations with McDonnell on the Mercury spacecraft - . Nation: USA. Program: Mercury. Spacecraft: Mercury. Summary: Preliminary negotiations were started with McDonnell on the technical and legal aspects of the Mercury spacecraft research and development program..

1959 January 16 - .
  • Mercury design details negotiated. - . Nation: USA. Program: Mercury. Spacecraft: Mercury; Mercury Heat Shield. During a meeting of the Space Task Group, it was decided to negotiate with McDonnell for design of spacecraft that could be fitted with either a beryllium heat sink or an ablation heat shield. Robert R. Gilruth, the project director, considered that for safety purposes, both should be used. He also felt that the recovery landing bag should be replaced by a honeycombed crushable structure. At this same meeting, a tentative decision was also made that design, development, and contract responsibilities for the Mercury tracking network would be assigned to the Langley Research Center.

1959 January 25 - .
  • Mercury pilot egress trainer received. - . Nation: USA. Program: Mercury. Spacecraft: Mercury. Summary: The pilot egress trainer was received from McDonnell and rough water evaluation of the equipment was started immediately by Space Task Group personnel..

1959 January 26 - .
  • NASA completed negotiations with McDonnell for the Mercury spacecraft. - . Nation: USA. Program: Mercury. Spacecraft: Mercury. NASA completed contract negotiations with McDonnell for the design and development of the Mercury spacecraft. At that time, McDonnell estimated that the first 3 spacecraft could be delivered in 10 months. Spacecraft refinements slipped this estimated goal by only 2 months.

1959 February 6 - .
  • Formal contract for 12 Mercury spacecraft with McDonnell. - . Nation: USA. Program: Mercury. Spacecraft: Mercury. Following industry-wide competition, a formal contract for research and development of the Mercury spacecraft was negotiated with the McDonnell Aircraft Corporation. The contract called for design and construction of 12 Mercury spacecraft, but it did not include details on changes and ground support equipment which were to be negotiated as the project developed. Later, orders were placed with the company for eight additional spacecraft, two procedural trainers, an environmental trainer, and seven checkout trainers. McDonnell had been engaged in studying the development of a manned spacecraft since the NACA presentation in mid-March of 1958.

1959 February 10 - .
  • Wiind tunnel tests of Project Mercury configuration models were started. - . Nation: USA. Program: Mercury. Spacecraft: Mercury. Summary: By the end of the year, over 70 different models had been tested by facilities at the Air Force's Arnold Engineering Development Center and the NASA Langley, Ames, and Lewis Research Centers..

1959 February 11 - . LV Family: Jupiter; Redstone.
  • Redstone and Jupiter flight phases of Project Mercury. - . Nation: USA. Related Persons: von Braun. Program: Mercury. Spacecraft: Mercury. Space Task Group and Army Ballistic Missile Agency personnel met at Huntsville, Alabama, to discuss Redstone and Jupiter flight phases of Project Mercury. During the course of the meeting the following points became firm: (1) Space Task Group was the overall manager and technical director of this phase of the program, (2) ABMA was responsible for the launch vehicle until spacecraft separation, (3) ABMA was responsible for the Redstone launch vehicle recovery (this phase of the program was later eliminated since benefits from recovering the launch vehicle would have been insignificant), (4) Space Task Group was responsible for the spacecraft flight after separation, (5) McDonnell was responsible for the adapters for the Mercury-Redstone configuration, and (6) ABMA would build adapters for the Mercury-Jupiter configuration. Because many points could only be settled by detailed design studies, it was decided to establish several working panels for later meetings.

1959 February 17 - .
  • Program for wind tunnel and free-flight tests in support of Project Mercury. - . Nation: USA. Program: Mercury. Spacecraft: Mercury. Summary: Members of the Space Task Group, Langley, Ames, McDonnell and NASA Headquarters drafted a coordinated program for wind tunnel and free-flight tests in support of Project Mercury..

1959 February 24 - . LV Family: Jupiter; Redstone.
  • Mercury-Redstone-Jupiter trajectory, aerodynamics, and flight loads - . Nation: USA. Program: Mercury. Spacecraft: Mercury. Mercury-Redstone-Jupiter Study Panel Number IV (choice of trajectory, aerodynamics, and flight loads) met at Redstone Arsenal. Subjects studied included pilot safety, simulation of entry from orbit, length of zero-g time, missile stability and aerodynamics, ascent accelerations, and range. This group reconvened on March 13, 1959.

1959 February 26 - . LV Family: Jupiter; Redstone.
  • Integration of the Mercury spacecraft with the Redstone and Jupiter launch vehicles. - . Nation: USA. Program: Mercury. Spacecraft: Mercury. Summary: Panel Number I (Design Subcommittee) met at Redstone Arsenal for the first time to discuss integration requirements for the Mercury spacecraft with the Redstone and Jupiter launch vehicles..

1959 February 26 - .
  • AEDC facilities to perform tests on scale models of the Mercury spacecraft. - . Nation: USA. Program: Mercury. Spacecraft: Mercury. Space Task Group and Langley Research Center personnel visited the Arnold Engineering Development Center, Tullahoma, Tennessee, to ascertain if the AEDC facilities were equipped to perform tests on scale models of the Mercury spacecraft and to arrange a testing schedule.

1959 February 27 - .
  • Mercury Big Joe design trajectory - . Nation: USA. Program: Mercury. Spacecraft: Mercury. Summary: Space Task Group personnel established the design trajectory for the Big Joe flight test. Convair Astronautics and Space Technology Laboratories personnel provided consultation and advice on ways in which these trajectory requirements could be met..

1959 March - .
  • Heatshield test of Mercury at lunar reentry speeds - . Nation: USA. Program: Apollo. Spacecraft: Mercury. H. Kurt Strass and Leo T. Chauvin of STG proposed a heatshield test of a fullscale Mercury spacecraft at lunar reentry speeds. This test, in which the capsule would penetrate the earth's radiation belt, was called Project Boomerang. An advanced version of the Titan missile was to be the launch vehicle. The project was postponed and ultimately dropped because of cost.

1959 March 6 - .
  • Spare part and ground support equipment requirements for Project Mercury. - . Nation: USA. Program: Mercury. Spacecraft: Mercury. Space Task Group and McDonnell officials met in St. Louis, Missouri, to discuss spare part and ground support equipment requirements for Project Mercury. Shortly thereafter, McDonnell submitted a preliminary plan for spare parts and check-out equipment to Space Task Group and NASA Headquarters for review.

1959 March 8 - .
  • Mercury abort test conducted at Wallops Island - . Nation: USA. Program: Mercury. Spacecraft: Mercury; Mercury Escape Tower. An abort test was conducted at Wallops Island on a full-scale model of the spacecraft with the escape tower, using a Recruit escape rocket. The configuration did not perform as expected (erratic motion), and as a result, the Langley Research Center was requested to test small-scale flight models of the abort system to determine its motion in flight.

1959 March 9 - .
  • Tests on several ablating materials for Mercury heat shield. - . Nation: USA. Program: Mercury. Spacecraft: Mercury; Mercury Heat Shield. Summary: Tests were in progress at Langley and Wallops Island on several types of ablating materials under environmental conditions that would be experienced by a spacecraft reentering from orbit..

1959 March 10 - .
  • Lack of a DX priority delaying Project Mercury. - . Nation: USA. Program: Mercury. Spacecraft: Mercury. The Space Task Group was notified by McDonnell that several of its subcontractors were experiencing difficulties in procuring material necessary to fabricate Project Mercury components. This delay was being caused by the lack of a DX priority procurement rating.

1959 March 11 - .
  • First full-scale test simulating a Mercury pad-abort situation. - . Nation: USA. Program: Mercury. Spacecraft: Mercury; Mercury Escape Tower. Langley's Pilotless Aircraft Research Division conducted, at Wallops Island, the first full-scale test simulating a pad-abort situation. A full weight and size spacecraft was used. For the first 50 feet the flight was essentially straight, indicating the successful functioning of the abort rocket. Thereafter, the spacecraft pitched through several turns and impacted a short distance from the shore. The malfunction was traced to the loss of a graphite insert from one of the three abort rocket nozzles, which caused a misalignment of thrust.

1959 March 17 - . LV Family: Little Joe. Launch Vehicle: Little Joe.
  • 6 main parachute and 12 drogue parachute canisters for Mercury - . Nation: USA. Program: Mercury. Spacecraft: Mercury; Mercury Parachute. Summary: Funds were requested to purchase 6 main parachute and 12 drogue parachute canisters from the Goodyear Aircraft Corporation in support of the Little Joe and Big Joe phases of Project Mercury..

1959 March 17-18 - .
  • Mercury mock-up inspection. - . Nation: USA. Program: Mercury. Spacecraft: Mercury. A Mock-Up Inspection Board meeting was held at the McDonnell plant to review the completed spacecraft mock-up. As a result of this meeting, the contractor was directed to restudy provisions made for pilot egress; rearrange crew space to make handles, actuators, and other instruments more accessible to the pilot; and modify the clock, sequence lights, and other displays. This same type of meeting was held on many subsequent occasions to review production spacecraft.

1959 March 20 - . LV Family: Jupiter; Redstone.
  • Mercury-Redstone and Mercury-Jupiter test objectives. - . Nation: USA. Program: Mercury. Spacecraft: Mercury. Mercury-Redstone and Mercury-Jupiter test objectives were discussed in a meeting at Langley between Space Task Group and Army Ballistic Missile Agency personnel. At that time it was decided that the first flights of both the Redstone and Jupiter would be unmanned. The second flights would be 'manned' with primates, and the Jupiter phase would end at that point. The six remaining Redstones would be used in manned flights for astronaut training.

1959 March 23 - .
  • DX priority procurement rating in support of Project Mercury. - . Nation: USA. Program: Mercury. Spacecraft: Mercury. Summary: As of this date, the McDonnell Aircraft Corporation listed some 32 items that required a DX priority procurement rating in support of Project Mercury. This highest national priority procurement rating had been requested by NASA on November 14, 1958..

1959 March 26 - .
  • Hypersonic flight tests for the Mercury spacecraft. - . Nation: USA. Program: Mercury. Spacecraft: Mercury. The Langley Research Center received approval for funds to conduct hypersonic flight tests for the Mercury spacecraft. Langley's Pilotless Aircraft Research Division would conduct tests on heat transfer rates at a velocity of mach 17, and dynamic behavior tests from a velocity of mach 10 to a subsonic speed.

1959 March 26 - . LV Family: Little Joe. Launch Vehicle: Little Joe.
  • Bio-pack experiments for Mercury Little Joe flights. - . Nation: USA. Program: Mercury. Spacecraft: Mercury. Summary: Space Task Group, Langley Research Center, and Air Force School of Aviation Medicine personnel met to plan bio-pack experiments that would be placed in several of the Little Joe research and development test flights..

1959 March 27 - .
  • Instructions for the marking of vehicles launched for the NASA. - . Nation: USA. Related Persons: Glennan. Spacecraft: Mercury. Summary: Dr. T. Keith Glennan, the NASA Administrator, provided instructions for the marking of vehicles launched for the NASA, including the Mercury spacecraft. He stated that policy would be to paint UNITED STATES in bold block form..

1959 March 28 - .
  • Mercury escape system changes - . Nation: USA. Program: Mercury. Spacecraft: Mercury; Mercury Escape Tower. Space Task Group officials were involved in an investigation as to whether the escape system should be changed. In the original proposal, McDonnell's plan was to use eight small rockets housed in a fin adapter, but this plan was set aside for a NASA developed plan in which a single-motor tripod would be used. Later, during a test of the escape system, the escape rockets appeared to fire properly but the spacecraft began to tumble after launch. This tumbling action caused concern, and Space Task Group engineers felt that the tower-escape system might have to be discarded, and a 'second look' was taken at the McDonnell proposal. The engineers concluded, however, that there were too many problems involved and the single-motor tripod concept was retained and has been proven to be quite effective.

1959 March 29 - . LV Family: Little Joe. Launch Vehicle: Little Joe.
  • Studies on Mercury - Little Joe separation - . Nation: USA. Program: Mercury. Spacecraft: Mercury. Summary: Studies were in progress to determine the optimum altitude for separation of the Little Joe spacecraft from its launch vehicle..

1959 March 31 - .
  • Mercury abort methods. - . Nation: USA. Program: Mercury. Spacecraft: Mercury; Mercury Escape Tower. Range Safety personnel at the Atlantic Missile Range were briefed by Space Task Group personnel on the description of the Mercury spacecraft, how it would function during a normal flight on an Atlas launch vehicle, and suggest methods for initiation of an abort during different powered phases of a flight. Atlantic Missile Range personnel discussed their past experience, and work was started to draft a Project Mercury range safety plan.

1959 April - .
  • Mercury parachute design unsafe for operation. - . Nation: USA. Program: Mercury. Spacecraft: Mercury; Mercury Parachute. In the recovery landing system, the extended-skirt main parachute was found to be unsafe for operation at altitudes of 10,000 feet and was replaced by a 'ring-sail' parachute of similar size. This decision was made after a drop when the main parachute failed to open and assumed a 'squidding' condition. Although little damage was sustained by the spacecraft on water impact, parachute experts decided that the ring-sail configuration should be adopted, and the air drop spacecraft were fitted.

1959 April 2-5 - .
  • Advanced manned space program to follow Project Mercury - . Nation: USA. Program: Apollo. Spacecraft: Mercury. The advanced manned space program to follow Project Mercury was discussed at a NASA Staff Conference held in Williamsburg, Va. Three reasons for such a program were suggested:
    1. Preliminary step to development of spacecraft for manned interplanetary exploration.
    2. Extended duration work in the space environment.
    3. Support of the military space mission.
    Among areas requiring study were the cost of an equatorial launch site, adequacy of tracking stations and DOD-NASA coordination of tracking systems, and the need for NASA's own propulsion test stands and facilities.

1959 April 2 - .
  • Seven astronauts selected for Mercury project. - . Nation: USA. Related Persons: Cooper; Grissom; Slayton; Carpenter; Shepard; Schirra; Glenn. Program: Mercury. Class: Manned. Type: Manned spacecraft. Spacecraft: Mercury. Seven astronauts were selected for Project Mercury after a series of the most rigorous physical and mental tests ever given to U.S. test pilots. Chosen from a field of 110 candidates, the finalists were all qualified test pilots: Capts. Leroy G. Cooper, Jr., Virgil I. Grissom, and Donald K. Slayton, (USAF); Lt. Malcolm S. Carpenter, Lt. Comdr. Alan B. Shepard, Jr., and Lt. Comdr. Watler M. Schirra, Jr. (USN); and Lt. Col. John H. Glenn (USMC).

1959 April 2-16 - . LV Family: Little Joe. Launch Vehicle: Little Joe.
  • Project Mercury animal payload program. - . Nation: USA. Program: Mercury. Spacecraft: Mercury. Summary: NASA and the military services conducted meetings to draft final plans for the Project Mercury animal payload program. The animal program was planned to cover nine flights, involving Little Joe, Redstone, Jupiter, and Atlas launch vehicles..

1959 April 9 - .
  • First group of US astronauts announced - . Nation: USA. Related Persons: Glennan. Program: Mercury. Spacecraft: Mercury. Summary: At a press conference in Washington, D.C., NASA Administrator T. Keith Glennan announced the seven pilots had been selected for the Mercury program..

1959 April 9-10 - .
  • Escape configurations for Mercury spacecraft - . Nation: USA. Program: Mercury. Spacecraft: Mercury; Mercury Escape Tower. Investigations of two escape configurations for Mercury spacecraft were conducted in a 16-foot transonic circuit at the Arnold Engineering Development Center, Tullahoma, Tennessee, for determination of static stability and drag characteristics of the configurations.

1959 April 10 - .
  • Mercury escape-motor canting-angle tests completed at Wallops Island. - . Nation: USA. Program: Mercury. Spacecraft: Mercury; Mercury Escape Tower. Summary: Escape-motor canting-angle tests were completed at Wallops Island. Tests were conducted in 5 degree increments between 10 degrees to 30 degrees, and visually it appeared stability was better at the larger angle..

1959 April 12 - .
  • Mercury impact tests - . Nation: USA. Related Persons: Gilruth. Program: Mercury. Spacecraft: Mercury. Summary: Tests were in progress at Langley in which an aluminium honeycomb structure was used partially to absorb the spacecraft impact load. Robert R. Gilruth, Project Mercury Director, had stated his belief of this requirement on January 16, 1959..

1959 April 12 - .
  • Space Task Group conducted the second full-scale Mercury beach abort test on Wallops Island. - . Nation: USA. Program: Mercury. Spacecraft: Mercury; Mercury Parachute. A deliberate thrust misalignment of 1 inch was programed into the escape combination. Lift-off was effected cleanly, and a slow pitch started during the burning of the escape rocket motor. The tower separated as scheduled and the drogue and main parachutes deployed as planned. The test was fully successful.

1959 April 13 - .
  • Mercury small-scale escape-tower combinations launched - . Nation: USA. Program: Mercury. Spacecraft: Mercury; Mercury Parachute. Two small-scale spacecraft escape-tower combinations were launched successfully at Wallops Island. On the next day a full-scale spacecraft escape system was launched. The complete sequence of events - escape system firing, escape tower jettisoning, parachute deployment, landing, and helicopter recovery - was satisfactory.

1959 April 16 - .
  • Plans for Mercury Big Joe I reentry spacecraft test vehicle. - . Nation: USA. Program: Mercury. Spacecraft: Mercury. Space Task Group, Langley Research Center, and Lewis Research Center personnel met to discuss development plans regarding construction and instrumentation of Big Joe Number I reentry spacecraft test vehicle. During the course of this meeting, milestone objectives of the work to be accomplished were drafted.

1959 April 22 - .
  • Tower configuration best escape system for the Mercury spacecraft. - . Nation: USA. Program: Mercury. Spacecraft: Mercury; Mercury Escape Tower. Summary: In a meeting at Langley, NASA officials concluded that the tower configuration was the best escape system for the Mercury spacecraft and development would proceed using this concept. However, limited studies of alternate configurations would continue..

1959 April 27 - .
  • Project Mercury was accorded the DX priority procurement rating. - . Nation: USA. Program: Mercury. Spacecraft: Mercury.

1959 April 27 - .
  • Mercury search and rescue procedures developed. - . Nation: USA. Program: Mercury. Class: Manned. Type: Manned spacecraft. Spacecraft: Mercury. Summary: Meeting of DOD working group on Project Mercury search and recovery operations was held at Patrick Air Force Base, with major emphasis placed on the first two ballistic Atlas shots, and command relationships..

1959 May 5 - .
  • Mercury recovery test program. - . Nation: USA. Program: Mercury. Spacecraft: Mercury. Space Task Group personnel held a meeting to discuss the complete recovery test program. Items of consideration included the availability of model spacecraft for the test, deciding the areas in which the tests would be held (Phase I - Wallops Island drops, and Phase II - Atlantic drops), and establishing the time schedule for the test program.

1959 May 6 - . LV Family: Little Joe. Launch Vehicle: Little Joe.
  • Pigs not to fly in space in Project Mercury - . Nation: USA. Program: Mercury. Spacecraft: Mercury. Pigs were eliminated as Little Joe flight test subjects when studies disclosed that they could not survive long periods of time on their backs. However, McDonnell did use a pig, 'Gentle Bess,' to test the impact crushable support, and the test was successful.

1959 May 12-14 - .
  • An informal meeting of the Mock-Up Inspection Board. - . Nation: USA. Program: Mercury. Spacecraft: Mercury. An informal meeting of the Mock-Up Inspection Board was held at McDonnell to review changes to the spacecraft development program resulting from the March mock-up meeting. Besides the review, a number of suggestions were made for changes in the crew space layout to permit more effective use of the controls, particularly when the astronaut was in the pressure suit in a full-pressurized condition. Among suggested changes were the shoulder harness release, the spacecraft compression and decompression handles, the ready switch, and the spacecraft squib switch. Test subjects also found that when in the fully pressurized suit none of the circuit breakers could be reached. McDonnell was directed to act on these problem areas.

1959 May 17 - .
  • Scale model of Mercury for launch from Wallops Island to mach 18. - . Nation: USA. Program: Mercury. Spacecraft: Mercury. Summary: The Langley Research Center was in the process of preparing a one-fourteenth scale model of the Mercury spacecraft for launch from Wallops Island on a five-stage rocket to a speed of mach 18..

1959 May 22 - .
  • The Project Mercury balloon flight test program was canceled. - . Nation: USA. Program: Mercury. Spacecraft: Mercury; Mercury Parachute. The Space Task Group oficials determined that the spacecraft could be tested environmentally in the Lewis Research Center's altitude wind tunnel. This included correct temperature and altitude simulations to 80,000 feet. The pilot could exercise the attitude control system and retrorockets could be fired in the tunnel. Because an active contract did exist with the Air Force, it was decided the two balloon drop tests with unmanned boiler-plate spacecraft would be accomplished.

1959 May 25-26 - .
  • Tentative manned space flight priorities - . Nation: USA. Program: Apollo. Spacecraft: Mercury. Tentative manned space flight priorities were established by the Research Steering Committee: Project Mercury, ballistic probes, environmental satellite, maneuverable manned satellite, manned space flight laboratory, lunar reconnaissance satellite, lunar landing, Mars Venus reconnaissance, and Mars-Venus landing. The Committee agreed that each NASA Center should study a manned lunar landing and return mission, the study to include the type of propulsion, vehicle configuration, structure, anti guidance requirements. Such a mission was an end objective; it did not have to be supported on the basis that it would lead to a more useful end. It would also focus attention at the Centers on the problems of true space flight.

1959 May 25-26 - . LV Family: Nova; Saturn C-3; Saturn V. Launch Vehicle: Saturn C-2.
  • National booster program, Dyna-Soar, and Mercury discussed - . Nation: USA. Related Persons: Faget; Low, George. Program: Apollo. Spacecraft: Mercury. The national booster program, Dyna-Soar, and Project Mercury were discussed by the Research Steering Committee. Members also presented reviews of Center programs related to manned space flight. Maxime A. Faget of STG endorsed lunar exploration as the present goal of the Committee although recognizing the end objective as manned interplanetary travel. George M. Low of NASA Headquarters recommended that the Committee:
    • Adopt the lunar landing mission as its long-range objective.
    • Investigate vehicle staging so that Saturn could be used for manned lunar landings without complete reliance on Nova.
    • Make a study of whether parachute or airport landing techniques should be emphasized.
    • Consider nuclear rocket propulsion possibilities for space flight.
    • Attach importance to research on auxiliary power plants such as hydrogen-oxygen systems.

1959 May 25-26 - .
  • First meeting of the Research Steering Committee on Manned Space Flight - . Nation: USA. Related Persons: Faget; Goett; Low, George. Program: Apollo. Spacecraft: Mercury. The first meeting of the Research Steering Committee on Manned Space Flight was held at NASA Headquarters. Members of the Committee attending were: Harry J. Goett, Chairman; Milton B. Ames, Jr. (part-time); De E. Beeler; Alfred J. Eggers, Jr.; Maxime A. Faget; Laurence K. Loftin, Jr.; George M. Low; Bruce T. Lundin; and Harris M. Schurmeier. Observers were John H. Disher, Robert M. Crane, Warren J. North, Milton W. Rosen (part-time), and H. Kurt Strass.

    The purpose of the Committee was to take a long-term look at man-in-space problems, leading eventually to recommendations on future missions and on broad aspects of Center research programs to ensure that the Centers were providing proper information. Committee investigations would range beyond Mercury and Dyna-Soar but would not be overly concerned with specific vehicular configurations. The Committee would report directly to the Office of Aeronautical and Space Research.


1959 May 28 - .
  • A quick-release, side exit hatch was designed for the Mercury spacecraft. - . Nation: USA. Program: Mercury. Spacecraft: Mercury. Summary: The design consisted of a continuous double explosive train to assure that all bolts were actually broken upon activation of the device..

1959 June - .
  • Northrop to fabricate the landing system for Mercury. - . Nation: USA. Program: Mercury. Spacecraft: Mercury; Mercury Parachute. McDonnell selected Northrop as the subcontractor to design and fabricate the landing system for Project Mercury. Northrop technology for landing and recovery systems dated back to 1943 when that company developed the first parachute recovery system for pilotless aircraft. For Project Mercury, Northrop developed the 63-foot ring-sail main parachute.

1959 June - .
  • Boilerplate Mercury spacecraft to develop recovery techniques. - . Nation: USA. Program: Mercury. Spacecraft: Mercury. Summary: The Space Task Group furnished several boilerplate spacecraft to DesFlotFour (naval unit involved in Project Mercury recovery plans) for use in developing detailed recovery techniques..

1959 June 4 - .
  • Post-Mercury program using maneuverable Mercury spacecraft - . Nation: USA. Related Persons: Gilruth. Program: Apollo. Spacecraft: Mercury. Summary: At an STG staff meeting, Director Robert R. Gilruth suggested that study should be made of a post-Mercury program in which maneuverable Mercury spacecraft would make land landings in limited areas..

1959 June 5 - .
  • Mercury drogue parachute changed. - . Nation: USA. Program: Mercury. Spacecraft: Mercury; Mercury Parachute. Summary: The drogue parachute configuration was changed from 19.5 percent porosity, flat circular ribbon chute to a 28 percent porosity, 30 degree conical canopy..

1959 June 8 - . LV Family: Little Joe. Launch Vehicle: Little Joe.
  • Bio-packs to be used in the NASA Mercury Little Joe Flight program. - . Nation: USA. Program: Mercury. Spacecraft: Mercury. Space Task Group officials met with representatives of the School of Aviation Medicine to discuss detailed aspects of the bio-packs to be used in the NASA Little Joe Flight program. The packs were to be furnished by the school. The purpose was to gather life support data that would be applicable to the manned flights of Project Mercury.

1959 June 8 - .
  • Mercury survival kits - . Nation: USA. Program: Mercury. Spacecraft: Mercury. The Space Task Group advised the Navy's Bureau of Aeronautics of Government-furnished survival items that McDonnell would package in containers. These included desalter kits, dye marker, distress signal, signal mirrors, signal whistle, first aid kits, shark chaser, PK-2 raft, survival rations, matches, and a radio transceiver. Navy assistance was requested in the procurement of these items.

1959 June 14-27 - .
  • Mercury spacecraft being designed to withstand 149 decibels. - . Nation: USA. Program: Mercury. Spacecraft: Mercury. A visit was made to McDonnell and it was learned that the Mercury spacecraft was being designed structurally to withstand 149 decibels overall noise level. McDonnell, however, anticipated that the actual maximum level would not be above 128 decibels. Space Task Group personnel felt that even the 128 decibels were too high for pilot comfort, and extensive research toward the resolution of this matter was started.

1959 June 19 - .
  • The Mercury Capsule (spacecraft) Coordination Office was organized within the Space Task Group. - . Nation: USA. Related Persons: Chamberlin. Program: Mercury. Spacecraft: Mercury. J. A. Chamberlin was appointed head of the office. Duties were divided into four major categories as follows: (1) loads, thermodynamics, structures, and aerodynamics; (2) cabin, life support, and controls; (3) electronics, recovery, and sequencing; and (4) transportation and handling, schedules and testing, and standards and specifications. This action assured continuity of effort in monitoring the McDonnell contract. Also, this office arranged and coordinated meetings with McDonnell personnel and served as a clearing house for all NASA-McDonnell contracts. The committee, of course, received a majority of its data from technical sources within the formal Space Task Group organization.

1959 June 19 - .
  • Mercury Capsule Review Board established - . Nation: USA. Program: Mercury. Spacecraft: Mercury. A Mercury Capsule Review Board was established to review, at regular intervals, action taken by the Capsule Coordination Office. Paul E. Purser was appointed chairman, with division heads, Coordination Office head, and Project and Assistant Project Directors serving as members.

1959 Summer - .
  • STG worked on advanced design concepts of earth orbital and lunar missions - . Nation: USA. Program: Apollo. Spacecraft: Mercury. Members of STG - including H. Kurt Strass, Robert L. O'Neal, Lawrence W. Enderson, Jr., and David C. Grana - and Thomas E. Dolan of Chance Vought Corporation worked on advanced design concepts of earth orbital and lunar missions. The goal was a manned lunar landing within ten years, rather than an advanced Mercury program.

1959 June 25-26 - .
  • Research Steering Committee briefed on technical studies - . Nation: USA. Program: Apollo. Spacecraft: Mercury. Alfred J. Eggers, Jr., of the Ames Research Center told the members of the Research Steering Committee of studies on radiation belts, graze and orbit maneuvers on reentry, heat transfer, structural concepts and requirements, lift over drag considerations, and guidance systems which affected various aspects of the manned lunar mission. Eggers said that Ames had concentrated on a landing maneuver involving a reentry approach over one of the poles to lessen radiation exposure, a graze through the outer edge of the atmosphere to begin an earth orbit, and finally reentry and landing. Additional Details: here....

1959 June 25-26 - . LV Family: Saturn V. Launch Vehicle: Saturn V.
  • Study and research areas for manned flight to and from the moon - . Nation: USA. Program: Apollo. Spacecraft: Mercury. Summary: Members of the Research Steering Committee determined the study and research areas which would require emphasis for manned flight to and from the moon and for intermediate flight steps:. Additional Details: here....

1959 June 25 - .
  • Mercury recovery airdrop test. - . Nation: USA. Program: Mercury. Spacecraft: Mercury. Navy surface vessels and aircraft were used in a recovery operation after an airdrop of a spacecraft off the coast from Jacksonville, Florida. The spacecraft was purposely dropped 40 miles away from the predicted impact point and 45 miles away from the nearest ship. Recovery was effected in 2 and one half hours.

1959 June 25-26 - . Launch Vehicle: Saturn C-2.
  • Lunar mission studies under way at the Army - . Nation: USA. Related Persons: von Braun. Program: Horizon. Spacecraft: Mercury. Summary: During the Research Steering Committee meeting, John H. Disher of NASA Headquarters discussed the lunar mission studies under way at the Army Ballistic Missile Agency (ABMA).. Additional Details: here....

1959 June 28 - . LV Family: Little Joe. Launch Vehicle: Little Joe.
  • Ablation materials for the Mercury Little Joe flights. - . Nation: USA. Program: Mercury. Spacecraft: Mercury; Mercury Heat Shield. Between June 28 and July 11, 1959, 12 heat-transfer tests were made in the Preflight Jet Test facility at Wallops Island on several ablation materials being considered for use on the spacecraft afterbody (not heat shield) for the Little Joe flights. Test conditions simulated those of actual Little Joe trajectories. Of the materials used, triester polymer and thermolag demonstrated the capability to protect the spacecraft against expected heat loads.

1959 June 29 - .
  • Longitudinal static stability investigation for the Mercury spacecraft. - . Nation: USA. Program: Mercury. Spacecraft: Mercury. Summary: A longitudinal static stability investigation was carried out for the Mercury manned orbital spacecraft model in the 16-foot transonic circuit at the Arnold Engineering Development Center..

1959 July - .
  • 1/14th-scale model of Mercury spacecraft tested at Mach 3.5. - . Nation: USA. Program: Mercury. Spacecraft: Mercury. The Pilotless Aircraft Research Division of the Langley Research Center launched a 1/14th-scale model of the Mercury spacecraft at Wallops Island to a speed of Mach 3.5 and at an altitude of 40,000 feet. The model spacecraft went into a continuous tumble from separation to landing.

1959 July - .
  • First automatic stabilization and control system for the Mercury spacecraft delivered - . Nation: USA. Program: Mercury. Spacecraft: Mercury. Summary: Minneapolis-Honeywell delivered the first automatic stabilization and control system for the Mercury spacecraft to McDonnell..

1959 July 1 - . LV Family: Jupiter. Launch Vehicle: Jupiter.
  • Jupiter launch vehicles in Project Mercury canceled - . Nation: USA. Related Persons: von Braun. Program: Mercury. Spacecraft: Mercury. Summary: The order for Jupiter launch vehicles in support of Project Mercury was canceled because the same or better data could be obtained from Atlas flights..

1959 July 6 - .
  • Mercury spacecraft energetic particles research. - . Nation: USA. Related Persons: Faget. Program: Mercury. Spacecraft: Mercury. As a result of a discussion between Maxime A. Faget, Space Task Group, and John E. Naugle, Space Science Division, NASA Headquarters, it was concluded that there were several important scientific experiments in the field of energetic particles research that could be performed by placing packets of emulsion within the Mercury spacecraft. Work was started to determine a suitable packet location, along with other details associated with conducting such experiments.

1959 July 13 - .
  • Spacecraft horizon scanner qualification tests were started. - . Nation: USA. Program: Mercury. Spacecraft: Mercury.

1959 July 20 - .
  • Postflight handling of the Mercury special test spacecraft. - . Nation: USA. Program: Mercury. Spacecraft: Mercury. Summary: The Space Task Group forwarded Big Joe postflight requirements to Pan American personnel at the Atlantic Missile Range for use in preparing their documents concerning postflight handling of the Mercury special test spacecraft..

1959 July 21 - .
  • Cape Canaveral. Building S for Project Mercury support - . Nation: USA. Program: Mercury. Spacecraft: Mercury. Alterations to Building 'S' at Cape Canaveral for Project Mercury support were discussed in a meeting at Cape Canaveral. A target date of December 1, 1959, was set for project completion. Therefore, this meant that Vanguard activities would have to be phased out of the building.

1959 July 22 - .
  • Mercury boilerplate pad abort flight - . Nation: USA. Program: Mercury. Spacecraft: Mercury; Mercury Escape Tower. A successful pad abort flight of a Mercury boilerplate spacecraft with a production version of the escape tower and rocket was made. The escape rocket motor was manufactured by Grand Central Rocket, and the flight was the first operational test of this component.

1959 July 28 - . LV Family: Little Joe. Launch Vehicle: Little Joe.
  • Second beach abort test leading to the Mercury Little Joe test series. - . Nation: USA. Program: Mercury. Spacecraft: Mercury; Mercury Escape Tower. A boilerplate spacecraft, instrumented to measure sound pressure level and vibration, was launched in the second beach abort test leading to the Little Joe test series. The purpose of the instrumentation was to obtain measurement of the vibration and sound environment encountered on the capsule during the firing of the Grand Central abort rocket. Memo, Charles A. Hardesty to NASA Langley IRD files, subject: Sound Measurements on the Second Beach Abort Test on the Little Joe Capsule, Oct. 9, 1959.

1959 July 31 - .
  • First animal couch for the Mercury program. - . Nation: USA. Program: Mercury. Spacecraft: Mercury; Mercury ECS. Personnel from the Aeromedical Field Laboratory inspected the first animal couch fabricated by McDonnell to be used in the Mercury animal flight program. The objective of the animal program was to provide verification of successful space flight prior to manned missions; to aquire data on physical and mental demands which will be encountered by the astronauts during space flight; to provide dynamic test of technical procedures and training for support personnel in handling the aeromedical program for manned flight; and to evaluate spacecraft environmental control systems and bioinstrumentation under flight conditions.

1959 August - .
  • Qualification tests completed for the Mercury main parachute. - . Nation: USA. Program: Mercury. Spacecraft: Mercury; Mercury Parachute. Summary: Qualification tests, which were started in May 1959, were completed for the 63-foot ringsail, main parachute. After this, complete parachute landing tests were initiated by spacecraft drops from a C-130 at Salton Sea, California..

1959 August 4 - .
1959 August 14 - .
  • Negotiations for the fabrication of six additional Mercury spacecraft. - . Nation: USA. Program: Mercury. Spacecraft: Mercury. Summary: NASA Headquarters approved a Space Task Group proposal that negotiations be undertaken with McDonnell for the fabrication of six additional Mercury spacecraft..

1959 August 25 - .
  • Testing completed on Mercury drogue parachute effectiveness - . Nation: USA. Program: Mercury. Spacecraft: Mercury; Mercury Parachute. Testing was completed to check the effectiveness of the drogue parachute as a stabilizing device. The drogue parachute was fully qualified for deployment at speeds up to Mach 1.5 and altitudes of up to 70,000 feet. Ordinarily, during the operational phase of Project Mercury the drogue parachute was deployed at 40,000 feet, so the component well met operational requirements.

1959 September 1-7 - .
  • McDonnell Mercury effort begins at Cape Canaveral - . Nation: USA. Program: Mercury. Spacecraft: Mercury. McDonnell moved a segment of its Mercury effort to Cape Canaveral in preparation for the operational phase of the program. Personnel were immediately assigned to committees to develop the plans for Mercury-Redstone and Mercury-Atlas missions. The McDonnell office was located in Hanger S.

1959 September 1 - .
  • Mercury spacecraft modified to withstand lunar reentry conditions - . Nation: USA. Program: Apollo. Spacecraft: Mercury. McDonnell Aircraft Corporation reported to NASA the results of several company-funded studies of follow-on experiments using Mercury spacecraft with heatshields modified to withstand lunar reentry conditions. In one experiment, a Centaur booster would accelerate a Mercury spacecraft plus a third stage into an eccentric earth orbit with an apogee of about 1,200 miles, so that the capsule would reenter at an angle similar to that required for reentry from lunar orbit. The third stage would then fire, boosting the spacecraft to a speed of 36,000 feet per second as it reentered the atmosphere.

1959 September 9 - .
  • Mercury Astronauts' Handbook. - . Nation: USA. Program: Mercury. Spacecraft: Mercury. The Space Task Group provided McDonnell with guidance in the development of the 'Astronauts' Handbook.' Topics included such items as a descriptive resume of normal and emergency procedures to be followed on the check lists. The book was divided into three sections: 'The Normal Operational Procedures,' 'The Emergency Operational Procedures,' and 'The Failure Analysis Procedures.'

1959 September 10-11 - .
  • Mercury spacecraft mock-up review - . Nation: USA. Program: Mercury. Spacecraft: Mercury. Summary: At a spacecraft mock-up review, the astronauts submitted several recommended changes. These involved a new instrument panel, a forward centerline window, and an explosive side egress hatch..

1959 September 11 - .
  • Mercury astronaut food and water requirements - . Nation: USA. Program: Mercury. Spacecraft: Mercury; Mercury ECS. After a preliminary study of the Mercury environment with regard to astronaut food and water requirements, Dr. Douglas H. K. Lee estimated that water use would be in the order of 500 cu cm/hr and that the caloric intake per day would be about 3,200 calories of food. Dr. Lee was a member of the Natick Quartermasters Research and Engineering Laboratory.

1959 September 19 - .
  • Mark II Mercury parachute test vehicle air launch - . Nation: USA. Program: Mercury. Spacecraft: Mercury; Mercury Parachute. Summary: An air launch of a Mark II parachute (drogue) test vehicle was conducted by the NASA Flight Research Center. This test, the 15th in the series, concluded the Project Mercury drogue parachute development and qualification tests..

1959 September 21 - .
  • Effects of sustained acceleration on the pilot's ability to control a vehicle. - . Nation: USA. Program: Mercury. Spacecraft: Mercury. Between September 21 and October 10, 1959, a research program was carried out by the Aviation Medical Acceleration Laboratory to measure the effects of sustained acceleration on the pilot's ability to control a vehicle. Various side-arm controllers were used, and it appeared that the three-axis type (yaw, roll, and pitch) was the most satisfactory. Later this configuration was extensively evaluated and adopted for use in the control system of the Mercury spacecraft.

1959 September 22 - .
  • Mercury Retrorocket Capability. - . Nation: USA. Program: Mercury. Spacecraft: Mercury; Mercury Retrorockets. Summary: A paper was issued covering 'Results of Studies Made to Determine Required Retrorocket Capability.' The intent of this study was to provide for pilot safety for landing during any emergency condition, as well as at the end of a normal mission..

1959 October - .
  • Mercury air-supplied launch-vehicle control system. - . Nation: USA. Program: Mercury. Spacecraft: Mercury. Summary: North American Aviation and Minneapolis-Honeywell were notified to proceed with the production of hardware for an air-supplied launch-vehicle control system..

1959 October - .
  • McDonnell received the first Mercury ablative heat shield - . Nation: USA. Program: Mercury. Spacecraft: Mercury; Mercury Heat Shield. Summary: McDonnell received the first ablative heat shield, designated for installation on Spacecraft No. 1. This particular heat shield was based on the Big Joe design, and was manufactured by General Electric..

1959 October 1 - .
  • Funds approved for major changes to the Mercury spacecraft - . Nation: USA. Program: Mercury. Spacecraft: Mercury; Mercury Parachute. Funds were approved by NASA Headquarters for the following major changes to the Mercury spacecraft: egress hatch installation (CCP-58-1), astronaut observation window installation (CCP-73); rate stabilization and control system (CCP-61-2), main instrument and panel redesign (CCP-76), installation of reefed ringsail landing parachute (CCP-41), and nonspecification configurations of spacecraft (CCP-8). With reference to the last item, the original contract with McDonnell had specified only one spacecraft configuration, but the various research and development flight tests required changes in the configuration.

1959 October 20 - .
  • Mercury spacecraft afterbody shingles tested - . Nation: USA. Program: Mercury. Spacecraft: Mercury. Summary: Requests were initiated to test the Mercury spacecraft afterbody shingles at the Navy's Dangerfield test facility for heat resistance and dynamic-pressure capabilities..

1959 October 30 - .
  • Mercury escape-system qualification-test results. - . Nation: USA. Program: Mercury. Spacecraft: Mercury; Mercury Escape Tower. A meeting of Space Task Group, Wallops Station, and McDonnell personnel was held to review and evaluate Mercury escape-system qualification-test results. In the continuing efforts of this activity, the responsibility in attaining test objectives was apportioned among the three organizations.

1959 November - .
  • Design of the Mercury couch was completed - . Nation: USA. Program: Mercury. Spacecraft: Mercury. Summary: Between November 1959 and January 1960, the general design of the Mercury couch was completed, and couches were molded for the astronauts and medical personnel associated with the program..

1959 November - .
  • Mercury first manned development system tests - . Nation: USA. Program: Mercury. Spacecraft: Mercury; Mercury Space Suit. The first manned development system tests were completed at the AiResearch Manufacturing Division, Garrett Corporation. Tests were conducted in the altitude chamber to determine proper functioning of all system valves and components. A McDonnell subject was clothed in a Mercury-type presure suit for these tests. Preliminary data from these tests indicated that the system functioned satisfactorily.

1959 November 1 - .
  • Mercury Horizon Scanner Handbook published. - . Nation: USA. Program: Mercury. Spacecraft: Mercury. Summary: The 'Handbook of Operation and Service Instructions, Horizon Scanner Test, Serial MDE 4590011' was published. This document was revised and reissued on June 6, 1960..

1959 November 8 - .
  • Design of the Mercury Control Center was completed. - . Nation: USA. Program: Mercury. Spacecraft: Mercury. Between this date and December 5, 1959, the tentative design and layout of the Mercury Control Center to be used to monitor the orbiting flight of the Mercury spacecraft were completed. The control center would have trend charts to indicate the astronaut's condition and world map displays to keep continuous track of the Mercury spacecraft.

1959 November 10 - .
  • Molding of the first production-type couch for the Mercury spacecraft. - . Nation: USA. Program: Mercury. Spacecraft: Mercury. Summary: Space Task Group personnel visited McDonnell to monitor the molding of the first production-type couch for the Mercury spacecraft..

1959 November 16-20 - .
  • Mercury astronauts familiarized with the expected reentry heat pulse - . Nation: USA. Program: Mercury. Spacecraft: Mercury; Mercury Space Suit. Summary: Wearing the Mercury pressure suits, the astronauts were familiarized with the expected reentry heat pulse at the Navy Aircrew Equipment Laboratory, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania..

1959 November 20 - . LV Family: Redstone. Launch Vehicle: Redstone MRLV.
  • Open-circuit television system in the Mercury-Redstone MR-2 and MR-3 flights - . Nation: USA. Program: Mercury. Flight: Mercury MR-3. Spacecraft: Mercury. At the fifth Mercury Coordination Meeting, the Army Ballistic Missile Agency proposed the installation of an open-circuit television system in the Mercury-Redstone second and third flights (MR-2 and MR-3). The purpose of the system was to observe and relay launch vehicle and spacecraft separation data.

1959 November 27 - .
  • Solid-fuel rocket motor used to propel the Mercury spacecraft escape system tested. - . Nation: USA. Program: Mercury. Spacecraft: Mercury; Mercury Escape Tower. The Arnold Engineering Development Center tested the Grand Central solid-fuel rocket motor used to propel the Mercury spacecraft escape system.The purpose of the test was to verify altitude ignition and to determine the combustion-chamber-pressure-time curve.

1959 November 27 - .
  • Biopack experiment for Mercury Little Joe 2 flight. - . Nation: USA. Program: Mercury. Spacecraft: Mercury. Summary: The Air Force School of Aviation Medicine agreed to provide a biopack experiment for the Mercury Little Joe 2 flight. Included in the pack were track plates of barley, nerve cells from a rat, tissue culture, and other specimens of that type..

1959 December - .
  • Preliminary flight rating test of the Mercury spacecraft reaction control automatic subsystem. - . Nation: USA. Program: Mercury. Spacecraft: Mercury. Summary: In the development of the Mercury spacecraft reaction control system, Bell Aircraft Corporation started the preliminary flight rating test of the automatic subsystem..

1959 December 4 - . Launch Site: Wallops Island.
  • Mercury Little Joe 2 (LJ-2) - . Nation: USA. Program: Mercury. Class: Manned. Type: Manned spacecraft. Spacecraft: Mercury. LJ-2 was launched from Wallops Island to determine the motions of the spacecraft escape tower combination during a high-altitude abort, entry dynamics without a control system, physiological effects of acceleration on a small primate, operation of the drogue parachute, and effectiveness of the recovery operation. Telemetry was set up to record some 80 bits of information on the flight. The abort sequence was initiated by timers after 59 seconds of elapsed flight time at an altitude of about 96,000 feet and a speed of Mach 5.5. Escape motor firing occurred as planned and the spacecraft was whisked away at a speed of about Mach 6 to an apogee of 53.03 statute miles. All other sequences operated as planned, and spacecraft recovery was effected in about 2 hours from lift-off. The primate passenger, 'Sam,' an American-born rhesus monkey, withstood the trip and the recovery in good condition. All objectives of the mission were met.

1959 December 7 - .
  • Tenney Engineering to construct Mercury altitude test chamber in Hanger S at Cape Canaveral. - . Nation: USA. Program: Mercury. Spacecraft: Mercury. Tenney Engineering Corporation was chosen by the Space Task Group to construct the Mercury altitude test chamber in Hanger S at Cape Canaveral. When completed, altitude pressure would simulate 225,000 feet. The chamber, a vertical cylinder with domed ends, was 12 feet in diameter and 14 feet high. The chamber was designed to allow a partial spacecraft functional check in a near-vacuum environment.

1959 December 8 - .
  • Retrorockets for the Mercury spacecraft were tested - . Nation: USA. Program: Mercury. Spacecraft: Mercury; Mercury Retrorockets. Summary: Two Thiokol retrorockets for the Mercury spacecraft were tested at the Arnold Engineering Development Center engine test facility. The test objectives were to evaluate ignition characteristics..

1959 December 31 - .
  • NASA funds in support of Project Mercury - . Nation: USA. Program: Mercury. Spacecraft: Mercury. At the end of the year, NASA funds in support of Project Mercury had been obligated to the listed organizations as follows: Air Force Ballistic Missile Division, NASA Order HS-36, Atlas launch vehicles, $22,830,000; Army Ordnance Missile Command, NASA Order HS-44, Redstone launch vehicles, $16,060,000; and McDonnell Aircraft Corporation, NASA Order 5-59, Mercury spacecraft, $49,407,540.

1959 December 31 - .
  • McDonnell exceeds one million labor-hours on Mercury. - . Nation: USA. Program: Mercury. Spacecraft: Mercury. Summary: Since being awarded the Mercury contract, McDonnell had expended 942,818 man-hours in engineering; 190,731 man-hours in tooling; and 373,232 man-hours in production..

1960 January - .
  • Training of Mercury remote-site flight controllers - . Nation: USA. Program: Mercury. Spacecraft: Mercury. Specifications for equipment and systems to be used for the training of the remote-site flight controllers and Mercury control center operations personnel were forwarded to the Western Electric team. The remote-site training was divided into two stages: off-range and on-range. The off-range portion consisted of practice runs on a typical set of controllers' consoles tied into an astronaut procedures trainer. The on-range part was planned at two stations within the United States and from here, controllers would be assigned to tracking sites for full range rehearsals and a mission.

1960 January - .
  • Qualification tests completed on Mercury cameras. - . Nation: USA. Program: Mercury. Spacecraft: Mercury. Summary: Qualification tests were completed on the Mercury spacecraft pilot cameras and instrument viewing cameras..

1960 January 15 - .
  • Qualification tests on programmer for Project Mercury completed - . Nation: USA. Program: Mercury. Spacecraft: Mercury. Summary: Qualification tests on a programmer fabricated by the Wheaton Engineering Company for Project Mercury were started and completed by March 28, 1960..

1960 January 19 - .
  • English vendors for Project Mercury components. - . Nation: USA. Program: Mercury. Spacecraft: Mercury. In keeping with a concept of using certain off-the-shelf hardware items that were available for the manufacture of Project Mercury components, companies around London, England, were visited throughout 1959. Potential English vendors of such items as the SARAH beacon batteries (later chosen), miniature indicators, time delay mechanisms, hydrogen-peroxide systems, and transducers were evaluated. A report of the findings was submitted on the cited date.

1960 January 21 - . LV Family: Atlas. Launch Vehicle: Atlas D.
  • 15 Atlas launch vehicles and 26 Mercury spacecraft purchased. - . Nation: USA. Program: Mercury. Spacecraft: Mercury. Summary: At a meeting to draft fiscal year 1962 funding estimates, the total purchase of Atlas launch vehicles was listed as 15, and the total purchase of Mercury spacecraft was listed as 26..

1960 January 21 - . 14:23 GMT - . Launch Site: Wallops Island. Launch Complex: Wallops Island LA1. Launch Vehicle: Little Joe 1 2C. LV Configuration: Little Joe 1-2C LJ-1B.
  • Mercury LJ-1B - . Nation: USA. Agency: NASA. Spacecraft: Mercury. Apogee: 14 km (8 mi). Little Joe 1-B (LJ-1B) was launched from Wallops Island with a rhesus monkey, 'Miss Sam,' aboard. Test objectives for this flight were the same as those for Little Joe 1 (LJ-1) in which the escape tower launched 31 minutes before the planned launch, and Little Joe 1-A (LJ-1A), wherein the dynamic buildup in the abort maneuver was too low. A physiological study of the primate, particularly in areas applying to the effects of the rapid onset of reverse acceleration during abort at maximum dynamic pressure, was also made. In addition, the Mercury helicopter recovery system was exercised. During the mission, all sequences operated as planned; the spacecraft attained a peak altitude of 9.3 statute miles, a range of 11.7 statute miles, and a maximum speed of 2,021.6 miles per hour. Thirty minutes from launch time, a Marine recovery helicopter deposited the spacecraft and its occupant at Wallops Station. 'Miss Sam' was in good condition, and all test objectives were successfully fulfilled.

1960 January 25 - .
  • McDonnell delivered first production Mercury spacecraft. - . Nation: USA. Program: Mercury. Spacecraft: Mercury. McDonnell delivered the first production-type Mercury spacecraft to the Space Task Group at Langley in less than 1 year from the signing of the formal contract. This spacecraft was a structural shell and did not contain most of the internal systems that would be required for manned space flight. After receipt, the Space Task Group instrumented the spacecraft and designated it for the Mercury-Atlas 1 (MA-1) flight.

1960 February 1 - .
  • Qualification tests of the Mercury spacecraft periscope were completed. - . Nation: USA. Program: Mercury. Spacecraft: Mercury.

1960 February 1 - . LV Family: Little Joe. Launch Vehicle: Little Joe.
  • External and Internal Noise of Mercury Space Capsules. - . Nation: USA. Program: Mercury. Spacecraft: Mercury. A study was completed on the 'External and Internal Noise of Space Capsules.' This study covered the acoustic environments of missile and space vehicles including noise generated by the rocket engines, air-boundary layers, and on-board equipment. Data used included noise measurements compiled from the Big Joe I and Little Joe 2 flight tests. These tests were a part of the internal and external noise study that had been in progress since early 1959. NASA officials were still of the opinion that the internal noise level was too high for pilot comfort. Space Task Group felt that data were needed on noise transmission through an actual production-model spacecraft structure.

1960 February 5 - .
  • Beryllium shingles to be used on the cylindrical section of the Mercury spacecraft. - . Nation: USA. Program: Mercury. Spacecraft: Mercury. Summary: A meeting was held to relay the decision that beryllium shingles would be used as the best heat protection material on the cylindrical section of the Mercury spacecraft..

1960 February 15 - .
  • Mercury landing system and post-landing equipment tests were completed. - . Nation: USA. Program: Mercury. Spacecraft: Mercury.

1960 February 15 - .
  • Mercury spacecraft battery qualification tests were completed. - . Nation: USA. Program: Mercury. Spacecraft: Mercury.

1960 February 22 - .
  • Tests were completed on the Mercury spacecraft automatic stabilization and control system. - . Nation: USA. Program: Mercury. Spacecraft: Mercury.

1960 February 27 - .
  • Design approval and reliability tests of the Mercury command receivers were completed. - . Nation: USA. Program: Mercury. Spacecraft: Mercury.

1960 March - .
  • Qualification tests started on the Mercury escape tower rocket. - . Nation: USA. Program: Mercury. Spacecraft: Mercury; Mercury Escape Tower. These tests were completed at the end of July 1960. As a part of the qualification program, three escape-rocket motors were successfully fired on a spacecraft model at conditions corresponding to approximately 100,000 feet altitude in the Lewis Research Center altitude wind tunnel. One motor was tested on a four-component balance system to determine thrust misalignment of the rocket motor. According to test results, the rocket motor appeared to meet operational requirements.

1960 March 11 - .
  • Pioneer V - . Nation: USA. Program: Mercury. Spacecraft: Mercury. Pioneer V, launched as a probe of the space between Earth and Venus, began to provide invaluable information on solar flare effects, particle energies and distributions and magnetic phenomena. Pioneer V continued to transmit such data until on June 26, 1960, when at a distance of 22.5 million miles from Earth, it established a new communications record.

1960 March 16 - . LV Family: Atlas. Launch Vehicle: Atlas D.
  • The Space Task Group published recovery requirements for the Mercury-Atlas 1 (MA-1) flight test. - . Nation: USA. Program: Mercury. Spacecraft: Mercury.

1960 March 28 - .
  • Mercury astronaut first open-water egress training. - . Nation: USA. Program: Mercury. Spacecraft: Mercury. Between March 28,1960 and April 1, 1960, the astronauts received their first open-water egress training in the Gulf of Mexico off the coast of Pensacola, Florida, in cooperation with the Navy's School of Aviation Medicine. The training was conducted in conditions of up to 10-foot swells, and no problems were experienced. The average egress time was about 4 minutes from a completely restrained condition in the spacecraft to being in the life raft.

1960 March 29 - .
  • Mercury spacecraft facility at Huntsville no longer required. - . Nation: USA. Program: Mercury. Spacecraft: Mercury. A decision was made by NASA Headquarters that the spacecraft prelaunch operation facility at Huntsville, Alabama, was no longer required. Spacecraft that were designated for Mercury-Redstone missions were to be shipped directly from McDonnell to Cape Canaveral, thereby gaining approximately 2 months in the launch schedule.

1960 April 1 - .
  • Mercury first production spacecraft delivered to NASA - . Nation: USA. Program: Mercury. Spacecraft: Mercury. Summary: The first McDonnell production spacecraft was delivered to NASA at Wallops Island for the beach-abort test..

1960 April 7 - .
  • Ablation tests on Mercury heat shield models. - . Nation: USA. Program: Mercury. Spacecraft: Mercury; Mercury Heat Shield. Summary: Ablation tests on nine Mercury heat shield models in the subsonic arc tunnel at the Langley Research Center were completed..

1960 April 8 - .
  • Mercury space environment chamber completed at Cape Canaveral. - . Nation: USA. Program: Mercury. Spacecraft: Mercury. Construction of an altitude facility chamber to simulate space environment was completed in Hanger S at Cape Canaveral. The purpose of this facility was for spacecraft checkout and astronaut training. Acceptance tests for this installation were completed on July 11, 1960.

1960 April 12 - .
  • First production Mercury capsule delivered. - . Nation: USA. Program: Mercury. Class: Manned. Type: Manned spacecraft. Spacecraft: Mercury. Summary: First production model of McDonnell-built Mercury capsule was delivered to NASA..

1960 April 15 - .
  • Qualification tests for the Mercury spacecraft retrorockets were started. - . Nation: USA. Program: Mercury. Spacecraft: Mercury; Mercury Retrorockets. One of the main purposes of this program was the development of a better igniter. The igniter tested was attached to the head end of the propellant grain and coated with a pyrotechnic. Based on three tests it appeared that the delayed ignition problem had been resolved. Thereafter, several other tests were run until the igniter was adjudged to be reliable.

1960 April 15 - .
  • Qualification tests began on the Mercury spacecraft posigrade rocket. - . Nation: USA. Program: Mercury. Spacecraft: Mercury; Mercury Retrorockets. Summary: The first three rocket motors subjected to these tests were successfully tested in a more stringent vibration spectrum than that required for Mercury-Atlas 1 (MA-1), the maximum dynamic reentry and maximum heat on afterbody test flight..

1960 April 18 - .
  • Manned environmental-control-system training spacecraft completed - . Nation: USA. Program: Mercury. Spacecraft: Mercury; Mercury ECS. Summary: Fabrication of the manned environmental-control-system training spacecraft was essentially completed and a test program on the equipment was started at McDonnell. This test was completed on April 25, 1960..

1960 April 26 - .
  • Tests completed on the Mercury maximum altitude sensor. - . Nation: USA. Program: Mercury. Spacecraft: Mercury. Summary: Tests were completed on the maximum altitude sensor. This component was fabricated by the Donner Scientific Company..

1960 May - .
  • Pressurized animal couches delivered for Mercury flight test program. - . Nation: USA. Program: Mercury. Spacecraft: Mercury. McDonnell delivered the flight-pressurized couches to be used in the animal phase of the Mercury flight test program. According to test results, the couches appeared to be satisfactory, with the exception of a slight sealing problem. McDonnell was attempting to resolve this problem.

1960 May-July - .
  • Two McDonnell Mercury Procedures Trainers delivered to NASA. - . Nation: USA. Program: Mercury. Spacecraft: Mercury. Number 1, delivered on May 4, 1960, was used for astronaut training in the management of the spacecraft systems at Langley Field and Number 2, delivered on July 5, 1960, was installed at Cape Canaveral, also for space flight preparations. The trainer at Langley Field, along with other equipment, later designated flight simulator, was moved in 1962 to Houston, Texas, location of the Manned Spacecraft Center, the successor to the Space Task Group.

1960 May 9 - . Launch Site: Wallops Island.
  • Beach Abort 1 - . Nation: USA. Program: Mercury. Class: Manned. Type: Manned spacecraft. Spacecraft: Mercury. First production model of Project Mercury spacecraft was successfully launched from NASA Wallops Station to test escape, landing, and recovery systems. Known as the "beach abort" shot, the Mercury capsule reached 775 m before parachute landing and pickup by Marine helicopter returned it to Wallops' hangar 17 minutes after launch.

1960 May 9 - .
  • Mercury Pad Abort 1 - . Nation: USA. Program: Mercury. Spacecraft: Mercury; Mercury Escape Tower. McDonnell's first production spacecraft, with its escape rocket serving as the propulsion force, was launched from Wallops Island. Designated the beach-abort test, the objectives were a performance evaluation of the escape system, the parachute and landing system, and recovery operations in an off-the-pad abort situation. The test was successful.

1960 May 14 - .
  • Mercury spacecraft used in the beach-abort test returned for an integrity test. - . Nation: USA. Program: Mercury. Spacecraft: Mercury; Mercury Escape Tower. Summary: The first production Mercury spacecraft, used in the beach-abort test, was returned to the McDonnell plant for an integrity test..

1960 May 15 - .
  • Qualification tests for the Mercury spacecraft explosive egress hatch were completed. - . Nation: USA. Program: Mercury. Spacecraft: Mercury.

1960 May 23 - .
  • Mercury Spacecraft No. 4 delivered to Cape Canaveral. - . Nation: USA. Program: Mercury. Spacecraft: Mercury. Summary: Spacecraft No. 4 (production number), after being instrumented and prepared by the Space Task Group and the Langley Research Center for flight tests, was delivered to Cape Canaveral for the first Mercury-Atlas mission (MA-1)..

1960 June - .
  • McDonnell delivered a Mercury flight-monitoring trailer to the Space Task Group. - . Nation: USA. Program: Mercury. Spacecraft: Mercury. Summary: This trailer was used at Cape Canaveral to house equipment which provided real-time telemetry read-outs during Mercury-Redstone flights..

1960 June - .
  • Mercury recoverable experiments - . Nation: USA. Program: Mercury. Spacecraft: Mercury. In the overall NASA space program, Project Mercury was the only program which included a recovery capability. For this reason, Space Task Group officials felt there were a number of experiments in the science and bioscience fields that could be placed aboard Mercury spacecraft during mission flights. An example of such experiments would be an ultra-violet camera which would provide data to assist in the design and development of an orbiting astronautical observatory; another might be bio-specimens. Obviously, decisions in experiment selections would have to be made to prevent any dilution of the primary Mercury mission.

1960 June 2 - .
  • Possible meteoroid damage to the Mercury spacecraft. - . Nation: USA. Program: Mercury. Spacecraft: Mercury. In considering the possible meteoroid damage to the Mercury spacecraft in orbital flight, it was concluded by the Space Task Group that damage likelihood was small even during periods of meteor showers. However, it was recommended that Mercury missions not be scheduled during forecasted shower periods.

1960 June 3 - .
  • As of this date, the funding status of Contract NAS 5-59, Mercury spacecraft, was $75,565,196. - . Nation: USA. Program: Mercury. Spacecraft: Mercury.

1960 June 20 - .
  • Tests were completed on the Mercury spacecraft horizon scanner. - . Nation: USA. Program: Mercury. Spacecraft: Mercury. Summary: A sandblast technique was employed in these tests, and measurements revealed that transmissibility was reduced in direct proportion to the area sand blasted. Tests covered 25, 50, and 75 percent of a germanium specimen..

1960 June 20 - .
  • Manned tests of the Mercury environmental control system began. - . Nation: USA. Program: Mercury. Spacecraft: Mercury; Mercury Space Suit. The subjects were clothed in pressure suits and subjected to postlanding conditions for 12 hours without serious physiological effects. The purpose of this test was to evaluate human tolerance, and the results indicated that no modification to the system were necessary. However, the postlanding ventilation conditions would continue to be monitored and requirements for any modifications would be evaluated.

1960 June 27 - .
  • Mercury Project Orbit - . Nation: USA. Program: Mercury. Spacecraft: Mercury. As a complement to the Mercury spacecraft reliability program, a decision was made that one production spacecraft would be withdrawn from the operational program for extensive testing. The test environment would involve vacuum, heat, and vibration conditions. This test series was later designated 'Project Orbit.'

1960 June 30 - .
  • Mercury spacecraft No. 2 was delivered to Huntsville. - . Nation: USA. Program: Mercury. Spacecraft: Mercury. Summary: Spacecraft No. 2 was delivered to the Marshall Space Flight Center, Huntsville, Alabama, for compatibility tests with the Redstone launch vehicle, and was shipped to Cape Canaveral on July 23, 1960..

1960 July 23 - . LV Family: Redstone. Launch Vehicle: Redstone MRLV.
  • Mercury spacecraft No. 2 delivered to Cape Canaveral - . Nation: USA. Program: Mercury. Spacecraft: Mercury. Summary: Mercury spacecraft No. 2 was delivered to Cape Canaveral for the Mercury-Redstone 1-A (MR-1A) mission..

1960 July 29 - .
  • Mercury spacecraft No. 3 was delivered to Langley Field for a noise and vibration test. - . Nation: USA. Program: Mercury. Spacecraft: Mercury.

1960 July 29 - . 13:13 GMT - . Launch Site: Cape Canaveral. Launch Complex: Cape Canaveral LC14. LV Family: Atlas. Launch Vehicle: Atlas D. LV Configuration: Atlas D 50D. FAILURE: Structural failure of Atlas.. Failed Stage: 1.
  • Mercury MA-1 - . Nation: USA. Agency: USAF. Program: Mercury. Spacecraft: Mercury. Apogee: 13 km (8 mi). Mercury-Atlas 1 (MA-1) was launched from the Atlantic Missile Range in a test of spacecraft structural integrity under maximum heating conditions. After 58.5 seconds of flight, MA-1 exploded and the spacecraft was destroyed upon impact off-shore. None of the primary capsule test objectives were met. The mission objectives were to check the integrity of the spacecraft structure and afterbody shingles for a reentry associated with a critical abort and to evaluate the open-loop performance of the Atlas abort-sensing instrumentation system. The spacecraft contained no escape system and no test subject. Standard posigrade rockets were used to separate the spacecraft from the Atlas, but the retrorockets were dummies. The flight was terminated because of a launch vehicle and adapter structural failure. The spacecraft was destroyed upon impact with the water because the recovery system was not designed to actuate under the imposed flight conditions. Later most of the spacecraft, the booster engines, and the liquid oxygen vent valve were recovered from the ocean floor. Since none of the primary flight objectives was achieved, Mercury-Atlas 2 (MA-2) was planned to fulfill the mission.

1960 August - .
  • Mercury impact skirt water and land tests was completed. - . Nation: USA. Program: Mercury. Spacecraft: Mercury; Mercury Heat Shield. The first phase of the program in which boilerplate spacecraft with impact skirts were dropped by helicopters on water and land surfaces was completed. These tests were performed to investigate spacecraft dynamics, effects of parachute restraint and release time on spacecraft dynamics, and to determine maximum landing decelerations. During the drops into the water spacecraft water stability was shown to be unacceptable, because a portion of the spacecraft cylindrical section remained under water. McDonnell immediately investigated this problem and performed such experiments as redistribution of weight to obtain center-of-gravity positions which were acceptable but yet provided satisfactory flotation characteristics. Space Task Group was investigating the possibility of extending the heat shield from the remainder of the spacecraft and thereby creating a greater stabilizing moment. Results from the drops on land appeared to be acceptable because of the relatively low decelerations and the overall low probability of a landing on land.

1960 August - .
  • Mercury astronaut side-hatch-egress training was completed with no difficulties encountered. - . Nation: USA. Program: Mercury. Spacecraft: Mercury. The astronauts later received refresher training prior to mission flights. In fact, during the refresher phases, better procedures were developed. An example was the helicopter mode in which a line was attached to the top of the spacecraft and the spacecraft was partially raised by the helicopter. Then, the astronaut emerged from the side egress hatch and was raised by a second line to the helicopter.

1960 August 11 - .
  • The Mercury spacecraft landing system qualification test program was completed. - . Nation: USA. Program: Mercury. Spacecraft: Mercury; Mercury Parachute. The entire qualification testing program consisted of 56 airdrops of full-scale engineering models of the Mercury spacecraft from C-130 aircraft at various altitudes up to 30,000 feet and from helicopters at low altitudes to simulate off-the-pad abort conditions. This test program, under contract to Northrop, had spanned one and one half years.

1960 August 16-18 - .
  • Mercury spacecraft No. 7 astronaut inspection results in changes in the control panel - . Nation: USA. Program: Mercury. Spacecraft: Mercury. At the design engineering inspection of spacecraft No. 7, a number of requests for changes in the control panel area were made by the astronauts to facilitate pilot operation. Later, meeting procedures for design engineering inspections were standardized and conducted by a permanent team at appropriate intervals.

1960 September 1 - .
  • Specification requirements for Mercury spacecraft on-board data system instrumentation tests. - . Nation: USA. Program: Mercury. Spacecraft: Mercury. The Space Task Group drafted and forwarded to McDonnell the specification requirements for spacecraft on-board data system instrumentation tests. McDonnell was to demonstrate the satisfactory performance of all space communication and instrumentation systems.

1960 September 1 - .
  • Mercury spacecraft No. 6 was delivered to Cape Canaveral - . Nation: USA. Program: Mercury. Spacecraft: Mercury. Summary: for the Mercury-Atlas 2 (MA-2) unmanned mission intended to gain data on maximum dynamic pressure and maximum heat on the spacecraft afterbody..

1960 September 3 - .
  • Aircraft telemetry requirements deleted from Mercury MA-3 and MA-4 missions - . Nation: USA. Program: Mercury. Spacecraft: Mercury. Summary: Aircraft telemetry requirements were deleted from the Mercury-Atlas 3 (MA-3) and Mercury-Atlas 4 (MA-4) missions, as the spacecraft had been modified to provide telemetry transmissions from the point of main parachute deployment to landing..

1960 September 9 - .
  • Test plans for the Mercury spacecaft systems - . Nation: USA. Program: Mercury. Spacecraft: Mercury. Summary: McDonnell forwarded its plans to the Space Task Group for the spacecaft systems tests and Cape Canaveral checkout plans for spacecraft Nos. 5 and 7. Later, spacecraft No. 7 was the first to undergo this type of test..

1960 September 21 - .
  • Mercury jettison rocket tests. - . Nation: USA. Program: Mercury. Spacecraft: Mercury; Mercury Heat Shield. Because of poor tower separation of the production spacecraft in the off-the-beach abort test at Wallops Island, NASA personnel at Langley started a series of jettison rocket tests. It was found that rocket performance had been only about 42 percent of the desired level, and experiments were started to raise thrust effectiveness. Measures taken included canting the motor, adding a cone to the blast shield, and, in one instance, deleting the blast shield. Space Task Group personnel advised McDonnell that plans were made to test a redesigned jettison rocket nozzle, consisting of three nozzles spaced 120 degrees apart and canted at a 30 degree angle to the rocket centerline. The three-nozzle effect, which produced the desired results, was another NASA engineering contribution.

1960 September 27 - . LV Family: Little Joe. Launch Vehicle: Little Joe.
  • Mercury spacecraft No. 3 erected at Wallops Island. - . Nation: USA. Program: Mercury. Spacecraft: Mercury. Summary: Mercury spacecraft No. 3, initially delivered to Langley on July 29, 1959, for a noise and vibration test, was erected at the Wallops Island launch site for the Little Joe 5 (LJ-5)..

1960 September 30 - .
  • Mercury spacecraft No. 5 delivered to the Marshall - . Nation: USA. Program: Mercury. Spacecraft: Mercury. Summary: Mercury spacecraft No. 5 was delivered to the Marshall Space Flight Center for booster compatibility checks, and was shipped to Cape Canaveral on October 11, 1960, for the Mercury-Redstone 2 (MR-2) ballistic-primate (Ham) mission..

1960 October 18 - .
  • Mercury spacecraft checkout facility transferred to Cape Canaveral. - . Nation: USA. Program: Mercury. Spacecraft: Mercury. Summary: The Mercury spacecraft checkout facility at Marshall Space Flight Center was transferred to Cape Canaveral..

1960 November 8 - .
  • Mercury Little Joe 5 (LJ-5) - . Nation: USA. Program: Mercury. Spacecraft: Mercury; Mercury Escape Tower. LJ-5, the first of the series with a McDonnell production spacecraft, was launched from Wallops Island to check the spacecraft in an abort simulating the most severe launch conditions. The launch was normal until 15.4 seconds after lift-off, at which time the escape rocket motor was prematurely ignited. The spacecraft did not detach from the launch vehicle until impact and was destroyed. Failure to attain mission objectives was attributed to several possible causes. One of these was failure of the spacecraft-to-adpater clamp-ring limit switches. Another possibility was failure of the escape tower clamp-ring limit switches. And the third was improper rigging of the limit switches in either of those locations so that vibration or deflection could have caused switch closure. Since the test objectives were not met, a repeat of the mission was planned.

1960 November 8 - . 15:18 GMT - . Launch Site: Wallops Island. Launch Complex: Wallops Island LA1. LV Family: Little Joe. Launch Vehicle: Little Joe 1 2P. LV Configuration: Little Joe 1-2P LJ-5. FAILURE: At 15.4 seconds the escape rocket motor and tower jettison motor ignited prematurely..
  • Mercury LJ-5 - . Nation: USA. Agency: NASA. Program: Mercury. Spacecraft: Mercury. Apogee: 16 km (9 mi). Little Joe 5 with a Mercury production spacecraft was launched from Wallops Island to test the spacecraft in an abort simulating the most severe launch conditions. At 15.4 seconds after liftoff, the escape rocket motor and tower jettison motor ignited prematurely. Booster, capsule, and tower remained mated through ballistic trajectory until destroyed on impact.

1960 November 13 - .
  • System checkout on Mercury spacecraft No. 7. - . Nation: USA. Program: Mercury. Spacecraft: Mercury. Summary: System checkout tests were completed on spacecraft No. 7. In the opinion of McDonnell, the results demonstrated that this spacecraft was adequate for a manned mission..

1960 November 17 - .
  • Test of the capability of a Mercury astronaut to make celestial observations. - . Nation: USA. Program: Mercury. Spacecraft: Mercury. Summary: The Space Task Group requested that McDonnell submit a proposal for conducting a test to determine the capability of an astronaut to make celestial observations through the Mercury spacecraft observation window..

1960 November 18 - . LV Family: Atlas. Launch Vehicle: Atlas D.
  • Mercury Spacecraft No. 8 delivered to Cape Canaveral - . Nation: USA. Program: Mercury. Spacecraft: Mercury. Summary: Spacecraft No. 8 was delivered to Cape Canaveral for the Mercury-Atlas 3 (MA-3) unmanned orbital mission..

1960 November 21-30 - .
  • Phase II of the Mercury helicopter spacecraft airdrop program was completed. - . Nation: USA. Program: Mercury. Spacecraft: Mercury. One of the objectives of these tests was to drop a spacecraft during wind conditions of 18 knots, and this phase was successful. Secondary objectives of the program were to investigate spacecraft dynamics and water stability. Both spacecraft flotation and righting characteristics were found to be acceptable.

1960 November 21 - . LV Family: Redstone. Launch Vehicle: Redstone MRLV.
  • An attempt was made to launch Mercury-Redstone 1 (MR-1) from Cape Canaveral. - . Nation: USA. Program: Mercury. Spacecraft: Mercury; Mercury Escape Tower. This unmanned mission was unsuccessful because premature cut-off of the launch vehicle engines activated the emergency escape system when the vehicle was only about 1 inch off the pad. Engine cut-off was caused by premature loss of electrical ground power to the booster. The launch vehicle settled back on the pad with only slight damage. Since the spacecraft received a cut-off signal, the escape tower and recovery sequence was initiated. The undamaged spacecraft was recovered for reuse.

1960 November 21 - . 14:00 GMT - . Launch Site: Cape Canaveral. Launch Complex: Cape Canaveral LC5. LV Family: Redstone. Launch Vehicle: Redstone MRLV. LV Configuration: Redstone MRLV-1. FAILURE: Engine cut off after 1 sec, vehicle fell back to the pad from a few centimeters height, but did not explode. This faulty ground-support circuitry had not been noted on some 60 previous Redstone firings.. Failed Stage: 1.
  • Mercury MR-1 - . Nation: USA. Agency: NASA. Program: Mercury. Spacecraft: Mercury. Apogee: 0 km ( mi). Summary: Suborbital launch attempt. After a four- or five-inch liftoff, MR-1 launched its escape tower but not the capsule. The undamaged spacecraft was recovered for reuse..

1960 December 1 - .
  • McDonnell completed the fabrication of the first Mercury spacecraft orbital timing device. - . Nation: USA. Program: Mercury. Spacecraft: Mercury. Summary: Qualification tests for this component were started immediately..

1960 December 1 - .
  • Recovery whip antenna on the Mercury spacecraft. - . Nation: USA. Program: Mercury. Spacecraft: Mercury. Summary: A 16 and one half foot recovery whip antenna replaced the balloon-borne system on the Mercury spacecraft..

1960 December 2 - .
  • Spacecraft weight and balance for the Mercury MR-2 mission - . Nation: USA. Program: Mercury. Spacecraft: Mercury. Summary: Spacecraft weight and balance values for the Mercury-Redstone 2 (MR-2) mission were forwarded by the Space Task Group to the Marshall Space Flight Center..

1960 December 3 - . LV Family: Redstone. Launch Vehicle: Redstone MRLV.
  • Mercury Redstone launch vehicle No. 3 shipped to Cape Canaveral - . Nation: USA. Program: Mercury. Spacecraft: Mercury. Summary: Redstone launch vehicle No. 3 was shipped to Cape Canaveral for the Mercury-Redstone 1A (MR-1A) mission..

1960 December 9 - . LV Family: Redstone. Launch Vehicle: Redstone MRLV.
  • Mercury spacecraft No. 7 delivered to Cape Canaveral - . Nation: USA. Program: Mercury. Flight: Mercury MR-3. Spacecraft: Mercury. Summary: Spacecraft No. 7 was delivered to Cape Canaveral for the Mercury-Redstone 3 (MR-3) manned ballistic mission (Shepard)..

1960 December 14 - .
  • Mercury satellite clock canceled. - . Nation: USA. Program: Mercury. Spacecraft: Mercury. A contract with the Waltham Precision Instrument Company for the development of a satellite clock was canceled. Technical difficulties were encountered in the manufacturing of the device, previously scheduled for delivery in August 1960, and there was little assurance that these problems could be resolved in time for the clock to be used in any of the Mercury flights. McDonnell fabricated an orbital timing device, which proved to be very satisfactory.

1960 December 19 - . 16:15 GMT - . Launch Site: Cape Canaveral. Launch Complex: Cape Canaveral LC5. LV Family: Redstone. Launch Vehicle: Redstone MRLV. LV Configuration: Redstone MRLV-3.
  • Mercury MR-1A - . Nation: USA. Agency: NASA. Program: Mercury. Spacecraft: Mercury. Apogee: 210 km (130 mi). Mercury-Redstone 1A (MR-1A) was launched from Cape Canaveral in a repeat of the November 21, 1960, mission and was completely successful. This was the third attempt to accomplish the objectives established for this flight. The first attempt on November 7, 1960, was canceled as a result of a helium leak in the spacecraft reaction control system relief valve, and on November 21, 1960, the mission could not be completed because of premature cut-off of the launch vehicle engines. Objectives of the MR-1A flight were to qualify the spacecraft for space flight and to qualify the flight system for a primate flight scheduled shortly thereafter. Close attention was given to the spacecraft-launch vehicle combination as it went through the various flight sequences: powered flight; acceleration and deceleration; performance of the posigrade rockets; performance of the recovery system; performance of the launch, tracking, and recovery phases of the operation; other events of the flight including retrorocket operation in a space environment; and operation of instrumentation. Except that the launch vehicle cut-off velocity was slightly higher than normal, all flight sequences were satisfactory; tower separation, spacecraft separation, spacecraft turnaround, retrofire, retropackage jettison, and landing system operation occurred or were controlled as planned. The spacecraft reached a maximum altitude of 130.68 statute miles, a range of 234.8 statute miles, and a speed of 4,909.1 miles per hour. Fifteen minutes after landing in the Atlantic Ocean, the recovery helicopter picked up the spacecraft to complete the successful flight mission.

1961 During the Year - .
  • Mercury spacecraft naming policy - . Nation: USA. Related Persons: Webb. Program: Mercury. Spacecraft: Mercury. Prior to entering the operational phase of Project Mercury, a decision was made by Robert R. Gilruth and James E. Webb that the astronaut selected for each flight would have the right to name his spacecraft, which is in keeping with past traditions. Therfore, the astronaut advised Robert R. Gilruth of the name of the spacecraft which he had chosen (Freedom 7 in the case of the first flight) and Mr. Gilruth, in turn, advised Mr. Webb of the name. The Federal Communications Commission was also notified of the name since the spacecraft would be using communications frequencies controlled by the Commission.

1961 January 20 - . LV Family: Little Joe. Launch Vehicle: Little Joe.
  • Mercury spacecraft No. 14 delivered to Wallops Island - . Nation: USA. Program: Mercury. Spacecraft: Mercury; Mercury Escape Tower. Summary: Mercury spacecraft No. 14 was delivered to Wallops Island for the Little Joe 5A (LJ-5A) maximum dynamic pressure abort test..

1961 January 31 - .
  • McDonnell exceed 4.5 million labor-hours on Mercury. - . Nation: USA. Program: Mercury. Spacecraft: Mercury. Summary: As of this date, McDonnell had expended 2,616,387 man-hours in engineering; 383,561 man-hours in tooling, and 1,538,476 man-hours in production in support of Project Mercury..

1961 January 31 - . 16:54 GMT - . Launch Site: Cape Canaveral. Launch Complex: Cape Canaveral LC5. LV Family: Redstone. Launch Vehicle: Redstone MRLV. LV Configuration: Redstone MRLV-2.
  • Mercury MR-2 - . Nation: USA. Agency: NASA. Program: Mercury. Spacecraft: Mercury. Apogee: 251 km (155 mi). Ham, a 37-pound chimpanzee, was aboard the spacecraft. The over-acceleration of the launch vehicle coupled with the velocity of the escape rocket caused the spacecraft to attain a higher altitude and a longer range than planned. In addition, the early depletion of the liquid oxygen caused a signal that separated the spacecraft from the launch vehicle a few seconds early. However spacecraft recovery was effected, although there were some leaks and the spacecraft was taking on water. Ham appeared to be in good physiological condition, but sometime later when he was shown the spacecraft it was visually apparent that he had no further interest in cooperating with the space flight program. Despite the over-acceleration factor, the flight was considered to be successful.

1961 February - .
  • Astronaut personal parachute in the Mercury program. - . Nation: USA. Program: Mercury. Flight: Mercury MR-3. Spacecraft: Mercury; Mercury Parachute. Instruction was provided to the astronauts to develop techniques and procedures for using the personal parachute as an additional safety feature in the Mercury program. This parachute was only used during the Mercury-Redstone 3 (MR-3) mission manned by Alan Shepard.

1961 February 3 - .
  • The Eagle-Picher Company started a 13-week life-cycle test on the Mercury spacecraft batteries. - . Nation: USA. Program: Mercury. Spacecraft: Mercury.

1961 February 10 - .
  • Hydrogen-peroxide fuel economy for the Mercury spacecraft. - . Nation: USA. Related Persons: Grissom. Program: Mercury. Spacecraft: Mercury; Mercury Retrorockets. Measures to be taken for hydrogen-peroxide fuel economy for the Mercury spacecraft attitude control system were studied at a coordination meeting. Items considered were orbital attitude, retroattitude hold sequence, and salvo versus ripple retrorocket firing. Astronaut Virgil Grissom reported that the salvo method had already been proven to be unsatisfactory on the Mercury procedures trainer.

1961 February 10 - . LV Family: Redstone. Launch Vehicle: Redstone MRLV.
  • Mission rules for the Mercury MR-3 - . Nation: USA. Program: Mercury. Flight: Mercury MR-3. Spacecraft: Mercury. Summary: Mission rules for the Mercury-Redstone 3 (MR-3 - Shepard's flight) were published. Revisions were issued on February 27, and April 28, 1961..

1961 February 17 - .
  • Manual bilge pump in Mercury spacecraft No. 7 - . Nation: USA. Program: Mercury. Spacecraft: Mercury. Summary: The Space Task Group requested that McDonnell design and install a manual bilge pump in Mercury spacecraft No.7 to allow the removal of any seawater resulting from leakage after spacecraft impact..

1961 February 17 - .
  • Egress hatch procedures for Mercury recovery force - . Nation: USA. Program: Mercury. Spacecraft: Mercury. Egress hatch procedures for Mercury recovery force operations were discussed at a coordination meeting. One suggestion involved the installation of a pull-ring for activating the hatch explosive charge. Another proposal was made for a paint outline of an emergency outlet that could be cut through, if necessary.

1961 February 17 - . LV Family: Atlas. Launch Vehicle: Atlas D.
  • Space Task Group selected severe flight trajectory for Mercury-Atlas 2 - . Nation: USA. Program: Mercury. Spacecraft: Mercury. Summary: Information was released by NASA Headquarters that Space Task Group engineers directing Project Mercury had selected the flight trajectory for the Mercury-Atlas 2 (MA-2) mission. . Additional Details: here....

1961 February 17-20 - . LV Family: Atlas. Launch Vehicle: Atlas D.
  • Rules for the Mercury MA-2 - . Nation: USA. Program: Mercury. Spacecraft: Mercury. Summary: Spacecraft, mission, and launch vehicle flight safety rules for the Mercury-Atlas 2 (MA-2) mission were reviewed by Space Task Group personnel..

1961 February 21 - . 14:12 GMT - . Launch Site: Cape Canaveral. Launch Complex: Cape Canaveral LC14. LV Family: Atlas. Launch Vehicle: Atlas D. LV Configuration: Atlas D 67D.
  • Mercury MA-2 - . Nation: USA. Agency: USAF. Program: Mercury. Spacecraft: Mercury. Apogee: 182 km (113 mi). Mercury-Atlas 2 (MA-2) was launched from Cape Canaveral in a test to check maximum heating and its effects during the worst reentry design conditions. The flight closely matched the desired trajectory and attained a maximum altitude of 114.04 statute miles and a range of 1,431.6 statute miles. Inspection of the spacecraft aboard the recovery ship some 55 minutes after launch (actual flight time was 17.56 minutes) indicated that test objectives were met, since the structure and heat protection elements appeared to be in excellent condition. The flight control team obtained satisfactory data; and the complete launch computing and display system, operating for the first time in a flight, performed satisfactorily.

1961 February 23 - .
  • Studies on the separation of the Mercury spacecraft during an emergency - . Nation: USA. Program: Mercury. Spacecraft: Mercury; Mercury Escape Tower. As of this date, the Space Task Group, Convair-Astronautics, Space Technology Laboratories, McDonnell, and the Marshall Space Flight Center had completed a number of extensive studies on the subject of the safe separation of the Mercury spacecraft from the launch vehicle during an emergency. The following papers include a report of these studies: NASA Project Mercury Working Paper No. 111, 'Mercury-Redstone Separation Distance ...'; NASA Project Mercury Working Paper No. 141, 'Dispersion Study of Separation Distance ...for Mercury-Redstone'; and NASA Working Paper No. 152, 'Determination of Mercury Escape Rocket Thrust Eccentricity ...from Mercury-Atlas Booster.'

1961 February 24 - . LV Family: Atlas. Launch Vehicle: Atlas D.
  • Mercury spacecraft No. 9 was delivered to Cape Canaveral - . Nation: USA. Program: Mercury. Spacecraft: Mercury. Summary: Spacecraft No. 9 was delivered to Cape Canaveral for the Mercury-Atlas 5 (MA-5) orbital primate (Enos) mission..

1961 February 25 - .
  • Successful drop test using Mercury boilerplate. - . Nation: USA. Program: Mercury. Spacecraft: Mercury; Mercury Heat Shield. Summary: McDonnell conducted a successful drop test, using a boilerplate spacecraft fitted with impact skirt, straps and cables, and a beryllium heat shield. During the tests the stainless steel straps were successfully stretched to design limits..

1961 March 2 - .
  • Mercury MA-2 flight showed low spacecraft afterbody temperatures. - . Nation: USA. Program: Mercury. Spacecraft: Mercury. Summary: Evaluation of the Mercury-Atlas 2 (MA-2) flight results disclosed that the spacecraft afterbody temperatures were somewhat lower than had been anticipated..

1961 March 6-7 - .
  • The third in the series of development engineering inspections on Mercury spacecraft was held. - . Nation: USA. Program: Mercury. Spacecraft: Mercury. Summary: At this time, spacecraft Nos. 12 and 15 were inspected, and some 50 requests for alterations were made..

1961 March 7 - . LV Family: Redstone. Launch Vehicle: Redstone MRLV.
  • Mercury spacecraft No. 11 delivered to Cape Canaveral - . Nation: USA. Program: Mercury. Flight: Mercury MR-4. Spacecraft: Mercury. Summary: Spacecraft No. 11 was delivered to Cape Canaveral for the Mercury-Redstone 4 (MR-4) ballistic manned (Grissom) flight..

1961 March 8 - .
  • Mercury spacecraft No. 10 delivered to the McDonnell altitude test facility - . Nation: USA. Program: Mercury. Spacecraft: Mercury. Summary: Spacecraft No. 10 was accepted and delivered to the McDonnell altitude test facility on March 31, 1961, for an orbital-flight environmental test..

1961 March 16 - .
  • Mercury spacecraft No. 10 was withdrawn from the flight program - . Nation: USA. Program: Mercury. Spacecraft: Mercury. Summary: It was allocated to a ground test simulating orbital flight environmental conditions at the McDonnell plant site..

1961 March 18 - . 16:49 GMT - . Launch Site: Wallops Island. Launch Complex: Wallops Island LA1. LV Family: Little Joe. Launch Vehicle: Little Joe 1 4C. LV Configuration: Little Joe 1-4C LJ-5A. FAILURE: Escape tower fired prematurely.
  • Mercury LJ-5A - . Nation: USA. Agency: NASA. Program: Mercury. Spacecraft: Mercury. Apogee: 12 km (7 mi). Mercury Little Joe 5A (LJ-5A), the sixth in the series of Little Joe missions, was launched from Wallops Island. This flight was intended to satisfy test objectives, which were not met previously because of the failure of the spacecraft to separate from the launch vehicle during the Little Joe 5 (LJ-5) mission flown on November 8, 1960. For reference, the purpose of this test was to demonstrate primarily the structural integrity of the spacecraft and the escape system during an escape maneuver initiated at the highest dynamic pressure anticipated during an Atlas launch for orbital flight. Little Joe 5A (LJ-5A) lifted off normally, but 19 seconds later the escape tower fired prematurely, a situation closely resembling the November 1960 flight. The signal to initiate the abort maneuver was given; and the launch vehicle-adapter clamp ring was released as intended, but the spacecraft remained on the launch vehicle since the escape motor was already expended. The separation was effected by using the retrorockets, but this command was transmitted before the flight had reached its apex, where separation had been planned. Therefore, the separation was rather violent. The parachutes did deploy at about 40,000 feet, and after recovery it was found that the spacecraft had actually incurred only superficial structural damage. In fact, this spacecraft was later used for the subsequent Little Joe 5B (LJ-5B) flight test. Test objectives of the Little Joe 5A (LJ-5A) were not met.

1961 March 20 - .
  • Phase III of the Mercury spacecraft airdrop program - . Nation: USA. Program: Mercury. Spacecraft: Mercury; Mercury Heat Shield. Primary objectives of the drops were to study further the spacecraft suitability and flotation capability after water impact. Six drops were made, but later (April 24-28, 1961) the tests were extended for two additional drops to monitor hard-surface landing effects. In the water phase of the program, spacecraft components under particular scrutiny were the lower pressure bulkhead and its capability to withstanding heat shield recontact without impairing flotation capability. Helicopters were used to make the drops.

1961 March 24 - .
  • Mercury MR-3A (cancelled) - . Call Sign: Freedom 7. Crew: Shepard. Backup Crew: Grissom. Payload: Mercury SC7. Nation: USA. Related Persons: von Braun; Shepard; Grissom. Program: Mercury. Flight: Mercury MR-3A. Spacecraft: Mercury. After booster problems on the Mercury MR-2 chimp test flight, Von Braun insisted on a further unmanned booster test flight, against the wishes of Shepard and others at NASA. A Mercury boilerplate capsule was launched on a flawless test on 24 March. If NASA had overruled Von Braun, the manned Freedom 7 capsule would have flown instead. Shepard would have been the first man in space (though not in orbit), beating Gagarin's flight by three weeks.

1961 March 24 - .
  • Mercury MR-BD - . Nation: USA. Program: Mercury. Spacecraft: Mercury. After analyzing launch vehicle behavior in the Mercury-Redstone 1A (MR-1A) and Mercury-Redstone 2 (MR-2), officials at the Marshall Space Flight Center and the Space Task Group were of the opinion that there were a number of problems that needed to be corrected prior to the advent of manned flight. The problems to be resolved included jet-vane vibration, instrumentation compartment vibration, failure of the thrust-controller system, and several other areas that needed attention. Many of these problems were studied by the personnel of engineering activities and proposed solutions were formulated. It was felt, however, that flight was necessary to verify the corrections and the Mercury-Redstone Booster Development test was scheduled and flown. All test objectives were met; as a result of this test, the launch vehicle was man-rated for the planned suborbital flights.

1961 April 2 - .
  • First simulated orbital mission of the Mercury spacecraft in an altitude chamber - . Nation: USA. Program: Mercury. Spacecraft: Mercury. Summary: The first simulated orbital mission, with the Mercury spacecraft in the altitude chamber, was conducted..

1961 April 4 - . LV Family: Little Joe. Launch Vehicle: Little Joe.
  • Mercury spacecraft No. 14A was delivered to Wallops Island. - . Nation: USA. Program: Mercury. Spacecraft: Mercury; Mercury Escape Tower. Summary: It would be used for the Little Joe 5B (LJ-5B) maximum dynamic-pressure abort mission. This spacecraft was first used in the Little Joe 5A (LJ-5A) mission and was then refitted for the LJ-5B flight..

1961 April 20 - . LV Family: Redstone. Launch Vehicle: Redstone MRLV.
  • Mercury-Redstone 3 (MR-3) readiness review. - . Nation: USA. Program: Mercury. Flight: Mercury MR-3. Spacecraft: Mercury. Summary: Spacecraft, mission, and launch vehicle flight safety were reviewed by Space Task Group personnel in preparation for the Mercury-Redstone 3 (MR-3) mission..

1961 April 25 - . 16:15 GMT - . Launch Site: Cape Canaveral. Launch Complex: Cape Canaveral LC14. LV Family: Atlas. Launch Vehicle: Atlas D. LV Configuration: Atlas D 100D. FAILURE: Destroyed by range safety.. Failed Stage: G.
  • Mercury MA-3 - . Payload: Mercury SC8. Nation: USA. Agency: NASA. Program: Mercury. Class: Manned. Type: Manned spacecraft. Spacecraft: Mercury. Decay Date: 1961-04-25 . COSPAR: F610425A. Mercury-Atlas 3 (MA-3) was launched from Cape Canaveral in an attempt to orbit the spacecraft with a 'mechanical astronaut' aboard. After lift-off, the launch vehicle failed to roll to a 70 degree heading and to pitch over into the proper trajectory. The abort-sensing system activated the escape rockets prior to the launch vehicle's destruction by the range safety officer after approximately 40 seconds of flight that had attained an altitude of 16,400 feet. The spacecraft then coasted up to 24,000 feet, deployed its parachutes, and landed in the Atlantic Ocean 2,000 yards north of the launch pad. The spacecraft was recovered and was found to have incurred only superficial damage; it was then shipped to McDonnell for refitting.

1961 April 28 - . 14:03 GMT - . Launch Site: Wallops Island. Launch Complex: Wallops Island LA4. LV Family: Little Joe. Launch Vehicle: Little Joe 1 4C. LV Configuration: Little Joe 1-4C LJ-5B.
  • Mercury LJ-5B - . Nation: USA. Agency: NASA. Program: Mercury. Spacecraft: Mercury. Apogee: 4.00 km (2.40 mi). Little Joe 5B (LJ-5B) was launched from Wallops Island to test the Mercury escape system under maximum dynamic pressure conditions. At the time of lift-off, one of the launch vehicle rocket motors did not ignite until after 4 seconds had elapsed. This delay caused the launch vehicle to pitch into a lower trajectory than had been planned, with a result that the abort maneuver experienced greater dynamic pressures than had been specified in the flight test plan. Other than this, all other sequential systems operated according to plan, and after landing, a normal helicopter recovery was accomplished. Thus, all test objectives were met and were actually exceeded because the spacecraft withstood the higher dynamic pressures.

1961 May 5 - . 14:34 GMT - . Launch Site: Cape Canaveral. Launch Complex: Cape Canaveral LC5. LV Family: Redstone. Launch Vehicle: Redstone MRLV. LV Configuration: Redstone MRLV-7.
  • Mercury MR-3 - . Call Sign: Freedom 7. Crew: Shepard. Backup Crew: Grissom. Nation: USA. Related Persons: Shepard; Grissom. Agency: NASA. Program: Mercury. Class: Manned. Type: Manned spacecraft. Flight: Mercury MR-3. Spacecraft: Mercury. Apogee: 187 km (116 mi). Alan Shepard first American in space, less than a month after Gagarin and only on a 15 minute suborbital flight. Only manned flight with original Mercury capsule design (tiny round porthole and periscope a la Vostok). If NASA had not listened to Von Braun, Shepard would have flown on the MR-BD flight of 24 March, beating Gagarin by three weeks and becoming the first man in space (though not in orbit). Shepard's capsule reached an altitude of 115.696 miles, range of 302 miles,and speed of 5,100 miles per hour. He demonstrated control of a vehicle during weightlessness and high G stresses. Recovery operations were perfect; there was no damage to the spacecraft; and Astronaut Shepard was in excellent condition.

1961 May 11 - . LV Family: Atlas. Launch Vehicle: Atlas D.
  • Mercury spacecraft 8A delivered to Cape Canaveral - . Nation: USA. Program: Mercury. Spacecraft: Mercury. Summary: Mercury spacecraft 8A was delivered to Cape Canaveral for the Mercury-Atlas 4 (MA-4) orbital unmanned (mechanical astronaut) mission..

1961 May 23-24 - .
  • The fourth development engineering inspection on Mercury spacecraft was held at McDonnell. - . Nation: USA. Program: Mercury. Spacecraft: Mercury. Summary: Inspection activities were primarily centered on spacecraft No. 18, and some 45 requests for alterations were initiated..

1961 May 26 - .
  • Mercury Freedom 7 at Paris Air Show. - . Nation: USA. Program: Mercury. Flight: Mercury MR-3. Spacecraft: Mercury. Summary: Until June 4, 1961, the Mercury spacecraft Freedom 7 (MR-3) was displayed at the Paris International Air Show. Some 650,000 visitors received the details on the spacecraft and on Shepard's suborbital flight..

1961 May 26 - .
  • Freedom 7 displayed at Paris Air Show. - . Nation: USA. Program: Mercury. Class: Manned. Type: Manned spacecraft. Spacecraft: Mercury. Summary: Freedom 7, Mercury spacecraft in which Alan B. Shepard, Jr., made his space flight on May 5, was a major drawing card at the Paris International Air Show. Details of the spacecraft and of Shepard's flight were related to about 650,000 visitors..

1961 June 13 - .
  • Freedom 7 exhibited in Rome. - . Nation: USA. Program: Mercury. Class: Manned. Type: Manned spacecraft. Spacecraft: Mercury. Summary: Freedom 7 Mercury capsule displayed to approximately 750,000 visitors at the Rassegna International Electronic and Nuclear Fair at Rome, Italy..

1961 June 13-25 - .
  • Mercury Freedom 7 in Rome, Italy. - . Nation: USA. Program: Mercury. Flight: Mercury MR-3. Spacecraft: Mercury. Summary: The Freedom 7 (MR-3) spacecraft was viewed by approximately 750,000 visitors at the Rassegna International Electronic and Nuclear Fair at Rome, Italy..

1961 June 24 - .
  • Modifications to Mercury spacecraft - . Nation: USA. Program: Mercury. Spacecraft: Mercury. Summary: Modifications were made to the spacecraft designated for the second manned suborbital Mercury flight. An observation window replaced two view ports and an improved manual control system was installed..

1961 June 28 - .
  • Mercury spacecraft No. 5 in seaworthiness test - . Nation: USA. Program: Mercury. Spacecraft: Mercury. Using spacecraft No. 5, a spacecraft seaworthiness test was conducted 65 miles east of Wallops Island. Sea conditions varied with 2 to 4 foot ground swells and wave heights of from 1 to 2 feet. Spacecraft flotation characteristics were found to be quite satisfactory.

1961 July 19 - . LV Family: Redstone. Launch Vehicle: Redstone MRLV.
  • Mercury MR-4 launch scrubbed. - . Nation: USA. Program: Mercury. Class: Manned. Type: Manned spacecraft. Flight: Mercury MR-4. Spacecraft: Mercury. Summary: Mercury-Redstone (MR-4) with manned Liberty Bell 7 capsule canceled within minutes of launch because of adverse weather..

1961 July 21 - . 12:20 GMT - . Launch Site: Cape Canaveral. Launch Complex: Cape Canaveral LC5. LV Family: Redstone. Launch Vehicle: Redstone MRLV. LV Configuration: Redstone MRLV-8.
  • Mercury MR-4 - . Call Sign: Liberty Bell 7. Crew: Grissom. Backup Crew: Glenn. Nation: USA. Related Persons: Grissom; Glenn. Agency: NASA. Program: Mercury. Class: Manned. Type: Manned spacecraft. Flight: Mercury MR-4. Spacecraft: Mercury. Apogee: 189 km (117 mi). The Mercury capsule, Liberty Bell 7, manned by Astronaut Virgil I. Grissom, boosted by a Redstone rocket, reached a peak altitude of 190.3 km and a speed of 8,335 km per hour. After a flight of 15 minutes and 37 seconds, the landing was made 487 km downrange from the launch site. The hatch blew while still in water, and the capsule sank; Grissom saved, though his suit was filling up with water through open oxygen inlet lines.

    This was the second and final manned suborbital Mercury Redstone flight, and the first flight with trapezoidal window. Further suborbital flights (each astronaut was to make one as a training exercise) were cancelled. An attempt to recover the capsule in very deep water in 1994 not successful. It was finally raised in the summer of 1999.


1961 August 1-3 - .
  • Seaworthiness characteristics of the operational Mercury spacecraft were evaluated. - . Nation: USA. Program: Mercury. Spacecraft: Mercury. Summary: Conditions during the test varied from ground swells of 5 to 15 feet, wave heights of 2 to 10 feet, and winds of 6 to 20 knots. The test lasted for 33 hours and was quite successful..

1961 August 5 to October 12 - .
  • Tests conducted on the Mercury spacecraft explosive hatch - . Nation: USA. Program: Mercury. Flight: Mercury MR-4. Spacecraft: Mercury. Summary: A series of environmental tests was conducted on the spacecraft explosive egress hatch because of the difficulties experienced during the Mercury-Redstone 4 (MR-4) mission..

1961 August 9 - . LV Family: Atlas. Launch Vehicle: Atlas D.
  • Retrofire-from-orbit mission rules for Mercury MA-4 - . Nation: USA. Program: Mercury. Spacecraft: Mercury; Mercury Retrorockets. Summary: Retrofire-from-orbit mission rules were published for the unmanned Mercury-Atlas 4 (MA-4) orbital flight..

1961 August 13 - .
  • Mercury spacecraft No. 15 delivered to Cape Canaveral. - . Nation: USA. Program: Mercury. Flight: Mercury MA-9; Mercury MA-10. Spacecraft: Mercury. It was returned to McDonnell to be reconfigured to the orbital-manned 1-day mission and tentatively assigned for Mercury-Atlas 10 (MA-10). Redesign was completed, and the spacecraft, then designated number 15A (later redesignated 15B), was delivered to Cape Canaveral on November 16, 1962.

1961 August 18 - . LV Family: Redstone. Launch Vehicle: Redstone MRLV.
  • Further Mercury suborbital flights cancelled. - . Nation: USA. Program: Mercury. Class: Manned. Type: Manned spacecraft. Flight: Mercury MR-5. Spacecraft: Mercury. Summary: NASA announced that analysis of Project Mercury suborbital data indicated that all objectives of that phase of the program had been achieved, and that no further Mercury-Redstone flights were planned..

1961 August 27 - .
  • Mercury spacecraft No. 13 was shipped to Cape Canaveral. - . Nation: USA. Program: Mercury. Flight: Mercury MA-6. Spacecraft: Mercury. Summary: This particular vehicle was designated for the first manned Mercury-Atlas orbital flight (MA-6, Glenn). Test and checkout work on the spacecraft was started immediately..

1961 August 30 - . LV Family: Redstone. Launch Vehicle: Redstone MRLV.
  • Investigation of the Mercury MR-4 explosive egress hatch. - . Nation: USA. Program: Mercury. Flight: Mercury MR-4. Spacecraft: Mercury. An investigation was conducted as a result of the premature activation of the Mercury-Redstone 4 (MR-4) explosive egress hatch. Tests were initiated in an environment more severe than had been conducted in prelaunch activities and tests, but no premature firings occurred. As a backup, McDonnell was asked to design a mechanical-type hatch. The model weighed some 60 pounds more than the explosive type, so other methods had to be sought to prevent any recurrence of the incident. A procedure was initiated which stipulated that the firing plunger safety pin would be left in place until the helicopter hook was attached to the spacecraft and tension was applied to the recovery cable.

1961 Late summer - . LV Family: Redstone. Launch Vehicle: Redstone MRLV. LV Configuration: Redstone MRLV-4.
  • Mercury MR-5 (cancelled) - . Crew: Glenn. Backup Crew: Slayton. Payload: Mercury SC15. Nation: USA. Related Persons: Glenn; Slayton. Program: Mercury. Flight: Mercury MR-5. Spacecraft: Mercury. The original Mercury project plan envisioned all of the astronauts making an initial suborbital hop aboard a Redstone booster before making an orbital flight aboard an Atlas. But Gherman Titov was launched on a full-day orbital flight in August 1961, making NASA's suborbital hops look pathetic. Further suborbital Mercury flights after that of Grissom were cancelled.

1961 September 5, 9 and 14 - .
  • Mercury rocket sled tests - . Nation: USA. Program: Mercury. Spacecraft: Mercury. Three rocket sled tests were conducted at the Naval Ordnance Test Station, China Lake, California, to study the detailed launch vehicle-spacecraft, clamp-ring separation. From run to run, minor modifications were made, and by the third run the separation action was perfected.

1961 September 13 - . 14:04 GMT - . Launch Site: Cape Canaveral. Launch Complex: Cape Canaveral LC14. LV Family: Atlas. Launch Vehicle: Atlas D. LV Configuration: Atlas D 88D.
  • Mercury MA-4 - . Payload: Mercury SC8A. Mass: 1,200 kg (2,600 lb). Nation: USA. Agency: NASA. Program: Mercury. Class: Manned. Type: Manned spacecraft. Spacecraft: Mercury. Decay Date: 1961-09-13 . USAF Sat Cat: 183 . COSPAR: 1961-A-Alpha-1. Apogee: 248 km (154 mi). Perigee: 156 km (96 mi). Inclination: 32.8000 deg. Period: 88.40 min. Mercury-Atlas 4 (MA-4) was launched from Cape Canaveral with special vibration and noise instrumentation and a mechanical crewman simulator aboard in addition to the normal spacecraft equipment. This was the first Mercury spacecraft to attain an earth orbit. The orbital apogee was 123 nautical miles and the perigee was 86 nautical miles. After one orbit, the spacecraft's orbital timing device triggered the retrograde rockets, and the spacecraft splashed in the Atlantic Ocean 161 miles east of Bermuda. Recovery was made by the USS Decatur. During the flight, only three slight deviations were noted - a small leak in the oxygen system; loss of voice contact over Australia; and the failure of an inverter in the environmental control system. Overall, the flight was highly successful: the Atlas booster performed well and demonstrated that it was ready for the manned flight, the spacecraft systems operated well, and the Mercury global tracking network and telemetry operated in an excellent manner and was ready to support manned orbital flight.

1961 September 22 - .
  • 30-inch balloon to be installed in the Mercury spacecraft - . Nation: USA. Program: Mercury. Flight: Mercury MR-4. Spacecraft: Mercury. The Space Task Group announced that a 30-inch diameter balloon would be installed in the Mercury spacecraft to allow for ship recovery should the helicopter br forced to drop the spacecraft, as happened during the Mercury-Redstone 4 (MR-4) recovery operations.

1961 October - .
  • Mercury spacecraft 12 delivered to Cape Canaveral. - . Nation: USA. Program: Mercury. Flight: Mercury MA-8. Spacecraft: Mercury. Summary: It was a backup for the MA-8 mission (six-orbit flight), but immediate consideration was given for its modification to the Mercury extended range or 1-day mission. The capsule was returned to McDonnell, reconfigured and stored..

1961 October 23 - .
  • Freedom 7 deposited in Smithsonian. - . Nation: USA. Related Persons: Webb. Program: Mercury. Class: Manned. Type: Manned spacecraft. Spacecraft: Mercury. The Freedom 7 Mercury capsule in which Alan B. Shepard, Jr., made the first suborbital space flight, was presented to the National Air Museum of the Smithsonian Institution. In his presentation, NASA Administrator Webb said: "To Americans seeking answers, proof that man can survive in the hostile realm of space is not enough. A solid and meaningful foundation for public support and the basis for our Apollo man-in-space effort is that U.S. astronauts are going into space to do useful work in the cause of all their fellow men."

1961 October 23 - . LV Family: Redstone. Launch Vehicle: Redstone MRLV.
  • Mercury Freedom 7 presented to the Smithsonian - . Nation: USA. Program: Mercury. Flight: Mercury MR-3. Spacecraft: Mercury. Summary: Freedom 7, the Mercury-Redstone 3 (MR-3) spacecraft, was presented by NASA to the National Air Museum of the Smithsonian Institution..

1961 October 25 - .
1961 Autumn - . LV Family: Redstone. Launch Vehicle: Redstone MRLV. LV Configuration: Redstone MRLV-6.
  • Mercury MR-6 (cancelled) - . Crew: Slayton. Payload: Mercury SC16. Nation: USA. Related Persons: Webb; Slayton. Program: Mercury. Flight: Mercury MR-6. Spacecraft: Mercury. Summary: After the Russians began orbiting cosmonauts, NASA cancelled further suborbital flights. The MR-6 mission was cancelled by NASA administrator James Webb at the beginning of July, 1961..

1961 November 12 - . LV Family: Atlas. Launch Vehicle: Atlas D.
  • Mercury 5 launch postponed - . Nation: USA. Program: Mercury. Class: Manned. Type: Manned spacecraft. Spacecraft: Mercury. Summary: Mercury-Atlas 5, scheduled for launch no earlier than November 14, ran into technical difficulties, postponing launch for several days..

1961 November 15 - .
  • Mercury spacecraft No. 18 was delivered to Cape Canaveral - . Nation: USA. Program: Mercury. Flight: Mercury MA-7. Spacecraft: Mercury. Summary: Mercury spacecraft No. 18 was delivered to Cape Canaveral for the second manned (Carpenter) orbital flight, Mercury-Atlas 7 (MA-7)..

1961 November 29 - . 15:07 GMT - . Launch Site: Cape Canaveral. Launch Complex: Cape Canaveral LC14. LV Family: Atlas. Launch Vehicle: Atlas D. LV Configuration: Atlas D 93D.
  • Mercury MA-5 - . Payload: Mercury SC9. Mass: 1,300 kg (2,800 lb). Nation: USA. Agency: NASA. Program: Mercury. Class: Manned. Type: Manned spacecraft. Spacecraft: Mercury. Decay Date: 1961-11-29 . USAF Sat Cat: 208 . COSPAR: 1961-A-Iota-1. Apogee: 237 km (147 mi). Perigee: 158 km (98 mi). Inclination: 32.6000 deg. Period: 88.30 min. Mercury-Atlas 5 (MA-5), the second and final orbital qualification of the spacecraft prior to manned flight was launched from Cape Canaveral with Enos, a 37.5 pound chimpanzee, aboard. Scheduled for three orbits, the spacecraft was returned to earth after two orbits due to the failure of a roll reaction jet and to the overheating of an inverter in the electrical system. Both of these difficulties could have been corrected had an astronaut been aboard. The spacecraft was recovered 255 miles southeast of Bermuda by the USS Stormes. During the flight, the chimpanzee performed psychomotor duties and upon recovery was found to be in excellent physical condition. The flight was termed highly successful and the Mercury spacecraft well qualified to support manned orbital flight.

1961 December 7 - .
  • Mercury manned orbital flight postponed. - . Nation: USA. Program: Mercury. Class: Manned. Type: Manned spacecraft. Spacecraft: Mercury. NASA postponed its projected manned orbital flight from December 1961 until early in 1962 because of minor problems with the cooling system and positioning devices in the Mercury capsule, Dr. Hugh Dryden, Deputy Administrator of NASA, said in a Baltimore interview. "You like to have a man go with everything just as near perfect as possible. This business is risky. You can't avoid this, but you can take all the precautions you know about."

1961 December 11-13 - .
  • Mercury spacecraft egress exercises - . Nation: USA. Program: Mercury. Spacecraft: Mercury. Spacecraft egress exercises were conducted for the astronauts in the Back River near Langley Field. This training was especially conducted for the pilots selected for the manned orbital mission and for helicopter recovery teams. The astronauts made both top and side hatch egresses from the spacecraft and no problems were encountered.

1961 December 12 - .
  • Mercury spacecraft ultimate pressure tests - . Nation: USA. Program: Mercury. Spacecraft: Mercury. Summary: Spacecraft ultimate pressure tests to 20 pounds per square inch were conducted, and subsequent inspection disclosed there was no structural damage, deformation or failure..

1961 December 13 - .
  • Webb indicates Mercury flight plans. - . Nation: USA. Related Persons: Webb. Program: Mercury. Class: Manned. Type: Manned spacecraft. Spacecraft: Mercury. NASA Administrator James E. Webb said in a speech in Cleveland that the United States would follow its first manned orbital flight in January 1962 with similar manned orbital flights every 60 days. These would gather data on effects of weightlessness, needed to determine the pacing of the two-man flight program later on. Mr. Webb also forecast the launching of 200 sounding rockets, 20 scientific satellites, and 2 deep-space probes in 1962.

1961 December 14-18 - .
  • Two Mercury spacecraft solid bottom (no impact bag) water drop tests were made. - . Nation: USA. Program: Mercury. Spacecraft: Mercury; Mercury Heat Shield. Summary: Subsequent inspections of the spacecaft structure and ablation heat shield disclosed no structural damage..

1961 December 14 - .
  • Mercury spacecraft to be a test bed for more ambitious space programs. - . Nation: USA. Program: Mercury. Spacecraft: Mercury. Summary: Walter C. Williams told a University of Houston audience at Houston, Texas, that the Mercury spacecraft had served and would continue to serve as a test bed for developing orbital flight techniques and hardware for more ambitious space programs..

1961 December 18 - .
  • Mercury spacecraft external pressure tests - . Nation: USA. Program: Mercury. Spacecraft: Mercury. Summary: Mercury spacecraft external pressure tests were conducted at pressures up to 15 pounds per square inch. Bulkhead deflection was slight and well within tolerable limits..

1962 January - .
  • Aerial drop tests planned for the Mercury 1-day mission. - . Nation: USA. Program: Mercury. Flight: Mercury MA-9; Mercury MA-10; Mercury MA-11; Mercury MA-12. Spacecraft: Mercury; Mercury Parachute. Twenty spacecraft aerial drop tests were planned for the Mercury extended range or 1-day mission. One of the prime objectives was to determine if the 63-foot ringsail main recovery parachute met all Mercury mission weight requirements. Tests were scheduled to be conducted at El Centro, California, and all tests would be land drops. This test program was designated Project Reef.

1962 January 16 - . LV Family: Atlas. Launch Vehicle: Atlas D.
  • Mercury spacecraft 16 delivered to Cape Canaveral - . Nation: USA. Program: Mercury. Spacecraft: Mercury. Summary: Spacecraft 16 was delivered to Cape Canaveral for the third manned (Schirra) orbital flight, Mercury-Atlas 8 (MA-8)..

1962 February 20 - . 14:47 GMT - . Launch Site: Cape Canaveral. Launch Complex: Cape Canaveral LC14. LV Family: Atlas. Launch Vehicle: Atlas D. LV Configuration: Atlas D 109D.
  • Mercury MA-6 - . Call Sign: Friendship 7. Crew: Glenn. Backup Crew: Carpenter. Payload: Mercury SC13. Mass: 1,355 kg (2,987 lb). Nation: USA. Related Persons: Glenn; Carpenter. Agency: NASA. Program: Mercury. Class: Manned. Type: Manned spacecraft. Flight: Mercury MA-6. Spacecraft: Mercury. Duration: 0.21 days. Decay Date: 1962-02-20 . USAF Sat Cat: 240 . COSPAR: 1962-Gamma-1. Apogee: 265 km (164 mi). Perigee: 159 km (98 mi). Inclination: 32.5000 deg. Period: 88.60 min. First US manned orbital mission. John Glenn finally puts America in orbit. False landing bag deploy light led to reentry being started with retropack left in place on heat shield. It turned out that indicator light was false and a spectacular reentry ensued, with glowing chunks of the retropack whizzing by the window. After four hours and 43 minutes the spacecraft reentered the atmosphere and landed at 2:43 pm EST in the planned recovery area NE of the Island of Puerto Rico. All flight objectives were achieved. Glenn was reported to be in excellent condition. Beause of failure of one of the automatic systems, the astronaut took over manual control of the spacecraft during part of the flight. With this flight, the basic objectives of Project Mercury had been achieved.

1962 March 4-5 - .
  • Mercury MA-7 water-egress exercises. - . Nation: USA. Program: Mercury. Flight: Mercury MA-7. Spacecraft: Mercury. Scott Carpenter and Walter Schirra, designated (but not publicly) as pilot and backup pilot, respectively, for the Mercury-Atlas 7 (MA-7) manned orbital mission, underwent water-egress exercises. Several side-hatch egresses were made in conjunction with helicopter pickups.

1962 March 20 - .
  • Mercury spacecraft 19 delivered to Cape Canaveral. - . Nation: USA. Program: Mercury. Spacecraft: Mercury. Summary: Spacecraft 19 was delivered to Cape Canaveral in the orbital-manned configuration, but this mission was canceled after the successful six-orbit flight of Schirra..

1962 April 19 - .
  • Mercury Friendship 7 world tour - . Nation: USA. Program: Mercury. Flight: Mercury MA-6. Spacecraft: Mercury. NASA announced that the spacecraft, Friendship 7, used in the Mercury-Atlas 6 (MA-6) manned obital mission would be lent to the United States Information Agency for a world tour, involving 20 stops and touching all continents. This tour was known as the 'fourth orbit of Friendship 7.' William Bland of the Mercury Project Office served as tour officer.

1962 May - .
  • Leg supports removed from the Mercury couch. - . Nation: USA. Program: Mercury. Spacecraft: Mercury. Summary: Decision was made between April 29 and May 5, 1962, that leg supports would be removed from the Mercury couch. It had been determined that the heel and toe supports could be used as the sole supports for the lower leg..

1962 May 3 - .
  • Titov meets Glenn - . Nation: USSR. Related Persons: Titov; Glenn; Kennedy; Johnson, Lyndon. Spacecraft: Mercury. They view the Redstone and Atlas rockets and a Mercury space capsule. Kamanin finds the Mercury very cramped, but notes that it is equipped with all the necessities. Glenn tells him it was possible for the astronaut to wear a parachute, but Glenn chose not to - he didn't believe he could really use it in an emergency anyway. Afterwards they were introduced to President Kennedy and Vice-President Johnson.

1962 May 4 - .
  • Titov in Baltimore - . Nation: USSR. Related Persons: Titov; von Braun; Glenn. Spacecraft: Mercury; Vostok. Titov and Kamanin meet journalist Drew Pierson, who claims that five Soviet cosmonauts died before Gagarin flew. They are introduced to Wernher Von Braun. In the afternoon they go to a barbecue at Glenn's house in Virginia. Kamanin carefully notes the technical information he has gleaned: Glenn wore no parachute; the Mercury's solid fuel retrorockets fire in 28 seconds, much more quickly and with more force than the Vostok's low-thrust liquid propellant engine; it is planned to launch a modernised version of Mercury on a one-day flight by the end of 1962; the astronauts train in the centrifuge to 16 G's (versus 12 G's for the cosmonauts); the NASA manned space headquarters is moving to Texas; Mercury is only capable of water landings, no work has been done on land landings or equipping the capsule with an ejection seat; several Amerrican women are considered fit for spaceflight, and the first American woman could make a three-orbit flight in the second half of 1962.

1962 May 4 - .
  • A memorandum was issued on proposed experiments for inclusion in Mercury manned orbital flights. - . Nation: USA. Program: Mercury. Spacecraft: Mercury. Summary: This action was in keeping with a statement made by Walter C. Williams before a University of Houston audience that the spacecraft would be used as a test bed for more ambitious space projects..

1962 May 6 - .
  • Titov at Seattle World Fair - . Nation: USSR. Related Persons: Titov. Spacecraft: Mercury. Summary: Kamanin and Titov visit the space exhibit at the US pavilion, including Glenn's Mercury capsule. Kamanin proudly notes that the fair had 75,000 visitors on the day the cosmonaut was there, compared to 25,000 to 27,000 on an average day..

1962 May - .
  • Mercury MA-7 Delta 7 (cancelled) - . Call Sign: Delta 7. Crew: Slayton. Backup Crew: Schirra. Payload: Mercury SC18. Nation: USA. Related Persons: Johnson, Lyndon; McNamara; Slayton; Schirra. Program: Mercury. Flight: Mercury MA-7 Delta 7. Spacecraft: Mercury. Astronaut Deke Slayton was to have been the second American in orbit. On March 16, 1962, it was announced that Slayton was grounded - due to a minor heart fibrillation known to NASA when they selected him to be an astronaut. Slayton's three orbit flight would have been called Delta 7. Instead Carpenter was selected for the mission, and Schirra, Slayton's backup, was moved to the Mercury 8 flight.

1962 May 24 - . 12:45 GMT - . Launch Site: Cape Canaveral. Launch Complex: Cape Canaveral LC14. LV Family: Atlas. Launch Vehicle: Atlas D. LV Configuration: Atlas D 107D.
  • Mercury MA-7 - . Call Sign: Aurora 7. Crew: Carpenter. Backup Crew: Schirra. Payload: Mercury SC18. Mass: 1,349 kg (2,974 lb). Nation: USA. Related Persons: Carpenter; Schirra. Agency: NASA. Program: Mercury. Class: Manned. Type: Manned spacecraft. Flight: Mercury MA-7. Spacecraft: Mercury. Duration: 0.21 days. Decay Date: 1962-05-24 . USAF Sat Cat: 295 . COSPAR: 1962-Tau-1. Apogee: 260 km (160 mi). Perigee: 154 km (95 mi). Inclination: 32.5000 deg. Period: 88.50 min. Scott Carpenter in Aurora 7 is enthralled by his environment but uses too much orientation fuel. Yaw error and late retrofire caused the landing impact point to be over 300 km beyond the intended area and beyond radio range of the recovery forces. Landing occurred 4 hours and 56 minutes after liftoff. Astronaut Carpenter was later picked up safely by a helicopter after a long wait in the ocean and fears for his safety. NASA was not impressed and Carpenter left the agency soon thereafter to become an aquanaut.

1962 May 28 - .
  • Mercury retrorocket heater blankets unnecessary. - . Nation: USA. Program: Mercury. Spacecraft: Mercury; Mercury Retrorockets. Summary: Flight and ground tests disclosed that Mercury retrorocket heater blankets were unnecessary to the spacecraft, and this item was removed..

1962 May 28 - .
  • Mercury-type survival kits for X-20 Dyna Soar - . Nation: USA. Program: Mercury. Spacecraft: Mercury. Summary: For possible application purposes, and upon request, the Manned Spacecraft Center shipped Mercury-type survival kits to the Air Force for its X-20 Dyna Soar development program and to the Navy..

1962 June 26 - .
  • Mercury Project Reef - . Nation: USA. Program: Mercury. Flight: Mercury MA-9; Mercury MA-10; Mercury MA-11; Mercury MA-12. Spacecraft: Mercury; Mercury Parachute. Project Reef, an airdrop program to evaluate the Mercury 63-foot ringsail main parachute's capability to support the higher spacecraft weight for the extended range or 1-day mission was completed. Tests indicated that the parachute qualified to support the mission.

1962 June 28 - .
  • Acoustic tests of ablation materials on Mercury flight tests. - . Nation: USA. Program: Mercury. Spacecraft: Mercury; Mercury Heat Shield. The Manned Spacecraft Center requested that the Langley Research Center participate in acoustic tests of ablation materials on Mercury flight tests. Langley was to prepare several material specimens which would be tested for possible application in providing lightweight afterbody heat protection for Apollo class vehicles. Langley reported the results of its test preparation activities on September 21, 1962.

1962 June 29 - .
  • Changes to fuel tank for the Mercury 1-day mission. - . Nation: USA. Program: Mercury. Flight: Mercury MA-9; Mercury MA-10; Mercury MA-11; Mercury MA-12. Spacecraft: Mercury. Summary: Engineering was completed for the spacecraft reaction control system reserve fuel tank and related hardware in support of the Mercury extended range or 1-day mission..

1962 July 13 - .
  • B-70 Valkyrie harness.tests for Mercury - . Nation: USA. Program: Mercury. Spacecraft: Mercury; Mercury Space Suit. Tests were conducted with a subject wearing a Mercury pressure suit in a modified Mercury spacecraft couch equipped with a B-70 (Valkyrie) harness. When this harness appeared to offer advantages over the existing Mercury harness, plans were made for further evaluation in spacecraft tests.

1962 August 6 - .
  • Mercury Friendship 7 spacecraft placed on display at the Century 21 Exhibition in Seattle - . Nation: USA. Program: Mercury. Flight: Mercury MA-6. Spacecraft: Mercury. The Friendship 7 spacecraft of the Mercury-Atlas 6 (MA-6) manned orbital mission (Glenn flight) was placed on display at the Century 21 Exhibition in Seattle, Washington. After this exhibition, the spacecraft was presented to the National Air Museum of the Smithsonian Institution, at formal presentation exercises on February 20, 1963.

1962 August 8 - .
1962 August 11 - .
  • Mercury spacecraft reaction control system test was completed. - . Nation: USA. Program: Mercury. Flight: Mercury MA-9; Mercury MA-10; Mercury MA-11; Mercury MA-12. Spacecraft: Mercury. Summary: Data compiled from this test was used to evaluate the thermal and thruster configuration of the Mercury extended range or 1-day mission spacecraft..

1962 August-September - .
  • Mercury spacecraft configuration changes for a one-day manned orbital mission. - . Nation: USA. Program: Mercury. Flight: Mercury MA-9; Mercury MA-10; Mercury MA-11; Mercury MA-12. Spacecraft: Mercury. Summary: Negotiations were completed with McDonnell for spacecraft configuration changes to support the Mercury 1-day manned orbital mission. The design engineering inspection, when the necessary modifications were listed, was held on June 7, 1962..

1962 September 18 - .
  • Mercury MA-8 readiness-for-mate - . Nation: USA. Program: Mercury. Flight: Mercury MA-8. Spacecraft: Mercury. Summary: The NASA spacecraft test conductor and the Convair test conductor notified the interface committee chairman of the readiness-for-mate of the adapter-interface area of the Mercury-Atlas 8 (MA-8)..

1962 September 22 - .
  • Special hand camera aboard the Mercury MA-8 - . Nation: USA. Program: Mercury. Flight: Mercury MA-8. Spacecraft: Mercury. As an experiment, Walter Schirra planned to carry a special 2.5-pound hand camera aboard the Mercury-Atlas 8 (MA-8) spacecraft. During the flight, the astronaut would attempt to arrive at techniques that could be applied to an advanced Nimbus weather satellite.

1962 September 28 - .
  • Schirra 6.5 hour simulated flight in Mercury MA-8 - . Nation: USA. Program: Mercury. Flight: Mercury MA-8. Spacecraft: Mercury. Summary: Walter Schirra made a 6.5 hour simulated flight in the Mercury-Atlas 8 (MA-8) spacecraft. The worldwide tracking network of 21 ground stations and ships also participated in the exercise..

1962 October 3 - . 12:15 GMT - . Launch Site: Cape Canaveral. Launch Complex: Cape Canaveral LC14. LV Family: Atlas. Launch Vehicle: Atlas D. LV Configuration: Atlas D 113D.
  • Mercury MA-8 - . Call Sign: Sigma 7. Crew: Schirra. Backup Crew: Cooper. Payload: Mercury SC16. Mass: 1,374 kg (3,029 lb). Nation: USA. Related Persons: Schirra; Cooper. Agency: NASA. Program: Mercury. Class: Manned. Type: Manned spacecraft. Flight: Mercury MA-8. Spacecraft: Mercury. Duration: 0.38 days. Decay Date: 1962-10-03 . USAF Sat Cat: 433 . COSPAR: 1962-B-Delta-1. Apogee: 285 km (177 mi). Perigee: 153 km (95 mi). Inclination: 32.5000 deg. Period: 88.80 min. The Sigma 7 spacecraft with Astronaut Walter M. Schirra, Jr., as pilot was launched into orbit by a Mercury-Atlas vehicle from Atlantic Missile Range. In the most successful American manned space flight to date, Schirra traveled nearly six orbits, returning to earth at a predetermined point in the Pacific Ocean 9 hours, 13 minutes after liftoff. Within 40 minutes after landing, he and his spacecraft were safely aboard the aircraft carrier U.S.S. Kearsarge. Schirra attempted and achieved a nearly perfect mission by sticking rigorously to mission plan.

1962 October 5 - .
  • Mercury Sigma 7 returned to Cape Canaveral for postflight inspection. - . Nation: USA. Program: Mercury. Spacecraft: Mercury. Summary: Mercury Spacecraft 16, Sigma 7, was returned to Hanger S at Cape Canaveral for postflight work and inspection. It was planned to retain the Sigma 7 at Cape Canaveral for permanent display..

1962 October 9 - . LV Family: Atlas. Launch Vehicle: Atlas D.
  • Mercury spacecraft 20 delivered to Cape Canaveral - . Nation: USA. Program: Mercury. Flight: Mercury MA-9. Spacecraft: Mercury. Summary: Spacecraft 20 was delivered to Cape Canaveral for the Mercury-Atlas 9 (MA-9) 1-day mission flight..

1962 October 19 - .
  • All spacecraft system tests completed for Mercury spaceraft 20. - . Nation: USA. Program: Mercury. Flight: Mercury MA-9. Spacecraft: Mercury. Summary: McDonnell reported that all spacecraft system tests had been completed for spaceraft 20, which was allocated for the Mercury-Atlas 9 (MA-9) 1-day orbital mission..

1962 November 1 - .
  • Mercury Simulator moved from Langley Field to Houston - . Nation: USA. Program: Mercury. Spacecraft: Mercury. Summary: Mercury Procedures Trainer No. 1, redesignated Mercury Simulator, was moved from Langley Field on July 23, 1962, and installed and readied for operations in a Manned Spacecraft Center building at Ellington Air Force Base, Houston, Texas..

1962 November 16 - . LV Family: Atlas. Launch Vehicle: Atlas D.
  • Mercury spacecraft 15A delivered to Cape Canaveral - . Nation: USA. Program: Mercury. Flight: Mercury MA-10. Spacecraft: Mercury. Summary: Mercury spacecraft 15A was delivered to Cape Canaveral for the Mercury-Atlas 10 (MA-10) orbital manned 1-day mission..

1962 November 28 - . LV Family: Atlas. Launch Vehicle: Atlas D.
  • Mercury Simulator 2 modified to the 1-day configuration. - . Nation: USA. Program: Mercury. Flight: Mercury MA-9. Spacecraft: Mercury. Summary: Mercury Simulator 2 was modified to the 1-day Mercury orbital configuration in preparation for the Mercury-Atlas 9 (MA-9) flight..

1962 November 28 - .
  • McDonnell exceeds 7 million labor hours on Mercury - . Nation: USA. Program: Mercury. Spacecraft: Mercury. Summary: On this date, the McDonnell Aircraft Corporation reported that as of October 31, 1962, it had expended 4,231,021 man-hours in engineering; 478,926 man-hours in tooling; and 2,509,830 man-hours in production in support of Project Mercury..

By the end of 1962 - . LV Family: Atlas. Launch Vehicle: Atlas D. LV Configuration: Atlas D Mercury s/n 77D.
  • Mercury MA-9A (cancelled) - . Call Sign: Faith 7. Crew: Cooper. Backup Crew: Shepard. Payload: Mercury SC19. Nation: USA. Related Persons: Kennedy; Cooper; Shepard. Program: Mercury. Flight: Mercury MA-9A. Spacecraft: Mercury. NASA’s Mercury orbital operations plan of July 19, 1961 had four spacecraft equipped for three-orbit flights. However by Schirra’s flight the seven-astronaut corps was down to four. So even thought the flight-ready SC19 had been delivered to Cape Canaveral on March 20, 1962, the decision was taken to cancel the remaining short-duration mission and move directly to an 18 orbit mission.

1962 December 31 - .
  • Mercury spacecraft contract status - . Nation: USA. Program: Mercury. Spacecraft: Mercury. As of this date, the cumulative cost of the Mercury spacecraft design and development program with the McDonnell Aircraft Corporation, Contract NAS 5-59, had reached $135,764,042. During the tenure of this contract, thusfar, there had been 56 amendments and approximately 379 contract change proposals (CCP). At the end of the year, McDonnell had about 325 personnel in direct labor support of Project Mercury. Between March and May of 1960, the personnel complement had been slightly better than 1,600, representing a considerable rise from the 50 people McDonnell had assigned in January 1959 when study and contract negotiations were in progress. Peak assignments by month and by activity were as follows: Tooling - February 1960; Engineering - April 1960; and Production - June 1960.

1963 January 7 - .
  • Final acceptance tests on the Mercury space flight simulator - . Nation: USA. Program: Mercury. Spacecraft: Mercury. Final acceptance tests were conducted on the Mercury space flight simulator at Ellington Field, Texas. This equipment, formerly known as the procedures trainer, was originally installed at Langley Field and was moved from that area to Houston. Personnel of the Manned Spacecraft Center and the Farrand Optical Company conducted the acceptance tests.

1963 January 10-16 - .
  • Mercury spacecraft No. 9A used in Project Orbit - . Nation: USA. Program: Mercury. Flight: Mercury MA-9. Spacecraft: Mercury. Summary: Mercury spacecraft No. 9A was cycled through Project Orbit Mission Runs 108, 108A, and 108B in the test facilities of the McDonnell Aircraft Corporation. . Additional Details: here....

1963 January 11 - .
  • Changes made to Mercury spacecraft 20 - . Nation: USA. Program: Mercury. Flight: Mercury MA-9. Spacecraft: Mercury; Mercury ECS. The Project Engineering Field Office (located at Cape Canaveral) of the Mercury Project Office reported on the number of changes made to spacecraft 20 (MA-9) as of that date after its receipt at Cape Canaveral from McDonnell in St. Louis. There were 17 specific changes, which follow: one to the reaction control system, one to the environmental control system, seven to the electrical and sequential systems, and eight to the console panels.

1963 January 14 - .
  • Mercury spacecraft 15A was redesignated 15B and allocated as a backup for the MA-9 mission. - . Nation: USA. Program: Mercury. Flight: Mercury MA-10. Spacecraft: Mercury. Summary: In the event Mercury-Atlas 10 (MA-10) were flown, 15B would be the prime spacecraft. Modifications were started immediately with respect to the hand controller rigging procedures, pitch and yaw control valves, and other technical changes..

1963 January 17 - .
  • Mercury MA-10 a possibility. - . Nation: USA. Related Persons: Seamans. Program: Mercury. Flight: Mercury MA-9. Spacecraft: Mercury. Asked by a Congressional committee if NASA planned another Mercury flight after MA-9, Dr Robert C. Seamans stated, in effect, that schedules for the original Mercury program and the 1-day orbital effort were presumed to be completed in fiscal year 1963. If sufficient test data were not accumulated in the MA-9 flight, backup launch vehicles and spacecraft were available to fulfill requirements.

1963 January 22 - .
  • Mercury white paint patch experiments. - . Nation: USA. Program: Mercury. Flight: Mercury MA-8. Spacecraft: Mercury. Summary: McDonnell Aircraft Corporation reported to the Manned Spacecraft Center on a study conducted to ascertain temperature effects on the spacecraft as a result of white paint patch experiments. . Additional Details: here....

1963 February 5-14 - .
  • Mercury Status Review - . Nation: USA. Program: Mercury. Spacecraft: Mercury. Summary: Personnel of the Manned Spacecraft Center visited the McDonnell plant in St. Louis to conduct a spacecraft status review.. Additional Details: here....

1963 February 7 - .
  • Inspection for the Mercury spacecraft 15B mockup. - . Nation: USA. Program: Mercury. Flight: Mercury MA-10. Spacecraft: Mercury. Summary: At a Development Engineering Inspection for the spacecraft 15B mockup, designated for the MA-10 mission, some 42 requests for alterations were listed..

1963 February 18-22 - .
  • Mercury Project Orbit Run 109. - . Nation: USA. Program: Mercury. Flight: Mercury MA-9. Spacecraft: Mercury. Summary: The McDonnell Aircraft Corporation reported to the Manned Spacecraft Center on the results of Mercury Project Orbit Run 109. . Additional Details: here....

1963 February 20 - .
  • Smithsonian received Friendship 7 Mercury spacecraft - . Nation: USA. Related Persons: Glenn. Program: Mercury. Spacecraft: Mercury. The Smithsonian Institution received the Friendship 7 Mercury spacecraft (MA-6 Glenn flight) in a formal presentation ceremony from Dr. Hugh L. Dryden, the NASA Deputy Administrator. Astronaut John Glenn presented his flight suit, boots, gloves, and a small American flag that he carried on the mission.

1963 February 23 - .
  • Checkout of Mercury spacecraft 20 scheduled for completion - . Nation: USA. Program: Mercury. Spacecraft: Mercury. Manned Spacecraft Center checkout and special hardware installation at Cape Canaveral on spacecraft 20 were scheduled for completion as of this date. However, work tasks were extended for a 2-week period because of the deletion of certain experimental hardware - zero g experiment and new astronaut couch. In addition, some difficulties were experienced while testing the space reaction control system and environmental control system.

1963 March 1 - .
  • Mercury spacecraft 9A completed Project Orbit Run 110. - . Nation: USA. Program: Mercury. Spacecraft: Mercury. Mercury spacecraft 9A, configured for manned 1-day mission requirements, completed Project Orbit Run 110. For this test, only the reaction control system was exercised; as a result of the run, several modifications were made involving pressurization and fuel systems.

1963 March 11 - .
  • Clearances between Mercury spacecraft retropack and launch vehicle adapter - . Nation: USA. Program: Mercury. Flight: Mercury MA-10. Spacecraft: Mercury; Mercury Retrorockets. Based on a request from the Manned Spacecraft Center, McDonnell submitted a review of clearances between the Mercury spacecraft 15B retropack and the launch vehicle adapter during separation maneuvers. This review was prompted by the fact that additional batteries and a water tank had been installed on the sides of the retropack. According to the McDonnell study the clearance safety margin was quite adequate.

1963 March 19 - .
  • Television camera for Mercury MA-9 - . Nation: USA. Program: Mercury. Flight: Mercury MA-9. Spacecraft: Mercury. Summary: The Manned Spacecraft Center received a slow-scan television camera system, fabricated by Lear Siegler, Incorporated, for integration with the Mercury-Atlas 9 (MA-9) mission. . Additional Details: here....

1963 April 20 - .
  • The final water condensate tank was installed in spacecraft 20 for the Mercury MA-9 mission. - . Nation: USA. Program: Mercury. Spacecraft: Mercury; Mercury ECS. In all, the system consisted of a 4-pound, built-in tank, a 3.6 pound auxiliary tank located under the couch head, and six 1-pound auxiliary plastic containers. The total capacity for condensate water storage was 13.6 pounds. In operation, the astronaut hand-pumped the fluid to the 3.6 pound tank to avoid spilling moisture inside the cabin from the built-in tank. Then the 1-pound containers were available.

1963 April 22 - . LV Family: Atlas. Launch Vehicle: Atlas D.
  • Mercury Spacecraft 20 mated to Atlas launch vehicle - . Nation: USA. Program: Mercury. Flight: Mercury MA-9. Spacecraft: Mercury. Summary: Spacecraft 20 was moved from Hanger S at Cape Canaveral to Complex 14 and mated to Atlas launch vehicle 130-D in preparation for the Mercury-Atlas 9 (MA-9) mission. The first simulated flight test was begun immediately..

1963 May 15 - . 13:04 GMT - . Launch Site: Cape Canaveral. Launch Complex: Cape Canaveral LC14. LV Family: Atlas. Launch Vehicle: Atlas D. LV Configuration: Atlas D 130D.
  • Mercury MA-9 - . Call Sign: Faith 7. Crew: Cooper. Backup Crew: Shepard. Payload: Mercury SC20. Mass: 1,376 kg (3,033 lb). Nation: USA. Related Persons: Cooper; Shepard. Agency: NASA Houston. Program: Mercury. Class: Manned. Type: Manned spacecraft. Flight: Mercury MA-9. Spacecraft: Mercury. Duration: 1.43 days. Decay Date: 1963-05-16 . USAF Sat Cat: 576 . COSPAR: 1963-015A. Apogee: 265 km (164 mi). Perigee: 163 km (101 mi). Inclination: 32.5000 deg. Period: 88.70 min. Summary: Final Mercury mission, Faith 7, was piloted by Astronaut L. Gordon Cooper, Jr..

1963 June 6-7 - .
  • Mercury MA-10 pitched to Webb - . Nation: USA. Related Persons: Webb. Program: Mercury. Flight: Mercury MA-10. Spacecraft: Mercury; Mercury ECS. Officials of the Manned Spacecraft Center made a presentation to NASA Administrator James E. Webb, outlining the benefits of continuing Project Mercury at least through the Mercury-Atlas 10 (MA-10) mission. They thought that the spacecraft was capable of much longer missions and that much could be learned about the effects of space environment from a mission lasting several days. This information could be applied to the forthcoming Projects Gemini and Apollo and could be gained rather cheaply since the MA-10 launch vehicle and spacecraft were available and nearing a flight readiness status.

1963 June 8 - . LV Family: Atlas. Launch Vehicle: Atlas D.
  • Mercury MA-10 environmental control system changes - . Nation: USA. Program: Mercury. Flight: Mercury MA-10. Spacecraft: Mercury; Mercury ECS. In preparation for the Mercury-Atlas 10 (MA-10) mission, should the flight be approved by NASA Headquarters, several environmental control system changes were made in spacecraft 15B. Particularly involved were improvements in the hardware and flexibility of the urine and condensate systems. With regard to the condensate portion, Gordon Cooper, in his press conference, indicated that the system was not easy to operate during the flight of Faith 7 (MA-9).

1963 June 12 - .
  • Webb rules out Mercury MA-10 shot - . Nation: USA. Related Persons: Webb. Program: Mercury. Flight: Mercury MA-10. Spacecraft: Mercury Mark I; Mercury. Testifying before the Senate Space Committee, James E. Webb, the NASA Administrator, said: 'There will be no further Mercury shots . . .' He felt that the manned space flight energies and personnel should focus on the Gemini and Apollo programs. Thus, after a period of 4 years, 8 months, and 1 week, Project Mercury, America's first manned space flight program, came to a close.

1963 June 13 - .
  • McDonnell's Project Mercury contract was terminated. - . Nation: USA. Flight: Mercury MA-10. Spacecraft: Mercury. McDonnell had already essentially concluded its Mercury activities and spacecraft 15-B had been delivered to Cape Canaveral. A termination meeting held at the Manned Spacecraft Center on June 14 settled the disposition of Mercury property and personnel. McDonnell was to screen all Mercury property for possible use in the Gemini program; any property McDonnell claimed would be transferred to Gemini by authority of the contracting officer at St Louis or the Cape. McDonnell was directed to furnish Gemini Project Office with a list of key Mercury personnel who might be reassigned to Gemini.

1963 October - . LV Family: Atlas. Launch Vehicle: Atlas D. LV Configuration: Atlas D Mercury s/n 144D.
  • Mercury MA-10 (cancelled) - . Call Sign: Freedom 7 II. Crew: Shepard. Backup Crew: Cooper. Payload: Mercury SC15B. Nation: USA. Related Persons: Shepard; Cooper. Program: Mercury. Flight: Mercury MA-10. Spacecraft: Mercury. Alan Shepard, and others pushed for a six day Mercury 10 endurance mission. This would give America the manned space endurance record for the first time and also cover the biological objectives of the first two Gemini missions. The Mercury 15B capsule had already been modified for long-duration flight and Shepard had the name 'Freedom 7 II' painted on the side. But the risk and work pending on Gemini persuaded NASA managers not to undertake another mission.

By the end of 1963 - . LV Family: Atlas. Launch Vehicle: Atlas D. LV Configuration: Atlas D Mercury s/n 152D.
  • Mercury MA-11 (cancelled) - . Crew: Grissom. Backup Crew: Schirra. Payload: Mercury SC12B. Nation: USA. Related Persons: Grissom; Schirra. Program: Mercury. Flight: Mercury MA-11. Spacecraft: Mercury. From October 25, 1961 until April 1962 NASA’s Mercury program plan included four one-day flights in 1963. By October 1962 the decision had been quietly taken to limit the long-duration flights to only MA-9 and MA-10. MA-10 was fnally cancelled in turn after the successful MA-9 mission.

By the end of 1963 - . LV Family: Atlas. Launch Vehicle: Atlas D. LV Configuration: Atlas D Mercury s/n 167D.
  • Mercury MA-12 (cancelled) - . Crew: Schirra. Payload: Mercury SC17. Nation: USA. Related Persons: Schirra. Program: Mercury. Flight: Mercury MA-12. Spacecraft: Mercury. From October 25, 1961 until April 1962 NASA’s Mercury program plan included four one-day flights in 1963. By October 1962 the decision had been quietly taken to limit the long-duration flights to only MA-9 and MA-10. MA-10 was fnally cancelled in turn after the successful MA-9 mission.

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