Encyclopedia Astronautica
Redstone MRLV



redsmerc.jpg
Redstone Mercury
Credit: © Thomas Kladiva - Thomas Kladiva
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.

The Redstone used for the Mercury manned flights was derived from the Jupiter-C version of the Redstone originally developed as the first stage of a satellite launch vehicle. The designers of the Redstone and Jupiter missile systems proposed an extensive list of basic modifications to adapt the vehicle to the Mercury capsule. The fundamental change made to the Jupiter-C airframe was the elimination of its staging capability. Other modifications stripped it of its more sophisticated components while permitting it to retain greater performance characteristics than the original single-stage Redstone.

The elongated fuel tanks of the Jupiter-C had to be retained for 20 extra seconds of engine burning time, especially since they decided to revert to alcohol for fuel rather than use the more powerful but more toxic hydyne that fueled the Jupiter-C. Another high-pressure nitrogen tank to pressurize the larger fuel tank and an auxiliary hydrogen peroxide fuel tank to power the engine turbopump also had to be added. To increase the reliability of the advanced Redstone, they had to simplify other parts of the Jupiter-C system. Instead of the sophisticated autopilot called ST-80, one of the first inertial guidance systems (the LEV-3 ) was reinstalled as the guidance mechanism. The after unit of the payload on the old Redstone, which had contained a pressurized instrument compartment, became the permanent forebody of the main tank assembly, there being no need to provide terminal guidance for the new payload. A spacecraft adapter ring likewise had to be designed to simplify interface coordination and to ensure clean separation between capsule and booster. At the other end of the launch vehicle it was necessary to use the most recent engine model, the A-7, to avoid a possible shortage of spare parts. Von Braun's propulsion engineers took the basic responsibility for "manrating" this engine.

Although NASA engineers bought the Redstone in the first place because it was considered an "off-the-shelf" rocket, they gradually learned that the Mercury-Redstone was in danger of being modified in about 800 particulars, enough to vitiate the record of reliability established by the earlier Redstones and Jupiter-Cs. Too much redesign also meant reopening the Pandora's box of engineering "trade-offs," the compromises between overdesign and underdesign. Von Braun's team tended in the former direction; NASA's in the latter. Von Braun's team wanted "positive redundancy" to ensure aborts whenever required, whereas NASA wanted more "negative redundancy" to avoid aborts unless absolutely essential. This distinction was the crux of the dispute and the essence of the distinction between "pilot safety" and "mission success."

Failures: 1. First Fail Date: 1960-11-21. Last Fail Date: 1960-11-21.

Gross mass: 28,400 kg (62,600 lb).
Height: 20.00 m (65.00 ft).
Diameter: 1.78 m (5.83 ft).
Thrust: 357.00 kN (80,256 lbf).
Apogee: 200 km (120 mi).
First Launch: 1960.11.21.
Last Launch: 1961.07.21.
Number: 6 .

More... - Chronology...


Associated Countries
Associated Spacecraft
  • Mercury 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. More...

See also
  • A4 The V-2, known as the A4 to its developers, was the basis for most of the rocketry that exists in the world today. It was ineffective as a weapon of war, but represented a quantum leap in technology. The A1, A2, A3, and A5 were steps in the development of the missile. Later versions - the A6 through A12 - were planned to take the Third Reich to the planets. 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 Manufacturers and Agencies
  • Von Braun American manufacturer of rockets and spacecraft. Von Braun, 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 Launch Sites
  • 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...

Associated Stages
  • Redstone Mercury Lox/Alcohol propellant rocket stage. Loaded/empty mass 28,440/3,125 kg. Thrust 414.34 kN. Vacuum specific impulse 265 seconds. Used for Jupiter-C satellite missions, and greatly modified, for Mercury manned positions. For Jupiter-C missions, used Hydyne fuel, which was toxic but increased specific impulse. More...

Redstone MRLV Chronology


1959 January 8 - . LV Family: Redstone. Launch Vehicle: Redstone MRLV.
  • Redstones ordered for Mercury suborbital launches. - . Nation: USA. Related Persons: von Braun. Program: Mercury. Summary: NASA requested eight Redstone-type launch vehicles from the Army to be used in Project Mercury development flights..

1959 June 5 - . LV Family: Redstone. Launch Vehicle: Redstone MRLV.
  • Mercury-Redstone inflight abort sensing system. - . Nation: USA. Program: Mercury. The Army Ballistic Missile Agency submitted a proposal (Report No. DG-TR-7-59) for a Mercury-Redstone inflight abort sensing system. This system would monitor performance of the control system (attitude and angular velocity), electrical power supply, and launch vehicle propulsion. If operational limits were exceeded, the spacecraft would be ejected from the launch vehicle and recovered by parachute.

1959 June 24 - . LV Family: Redstone. Launch Vehicle: Redstone MRLV.
  • Eight Mercury Redstone launch vehicles final cost $20.1 million. - . Nation: USA. Program: Mercury. Summary: Against an original estimated cost of $15.5 million for eight Redstone launch vehicles in support of Project Mercury, the final negotiated figure was $20.1 million..

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 December 22 - . LV Family: Redstone. Launch Vehicle: Redstone MRLV.
  • Redstone for Mercury MR-1 installed on the interim test stand. - . Nation: USA. Program: Mercury. Summary: The Redstone launch vehicle for the first Mercury-Redstone mission (MR-1) was installed on the interim test stand at the Army Ballistic Missile Agency for static testing..

1960 January 18 - . LV Family: Redstone. Launch Vehicle: Redstone MRLV.
  • Mercury-Redstone Coordination Committee - . Nation: USA. Program: Mercury. Summary: Walter C. Williams proposed the establishment of a Mercury-Redstone Coordination Committee to monitor and coordinate activities related to Mercury-Redstone flight tests..

1960 February 8 - . LV Family: Redstone. Launch Vehicle: Redstone MRLV.
  • Tests started for the mission abort sensing program for Mercury-Redstone - . Nation: USA. Program: Mercury. Summary: Tests were started by the Army Ballistic Missile Agency for the mission abort sensing program to be integrated in the Mercury-Redstone phase of Project Mercury..

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 August 1 - . LV Family: Redstone. Launch Vehicle: Redstone MRLV.
  • Final Trajectory for Mercury MR-1 - . Nation: USA. Program: Mercury. Summary: Marshall Space Flight Center published the 'Final Standard Trajectory for MR-1 (Mercury-Redstone).'.

1960 August 3 - . LV Family: Redstone. Launch Vehicle: Redstone MRLV.
  • Redstone launch vehicle No. 1 was delivered to Cape Canaveral for the MR-1 (Mercury-Redstone). - . Nation: USA. Program: Mercury.

1960 September 19 - . LV Family: Redstone. Launch Vehicle: Redstone MRLV.
  • Format of first Mercury-Redstone postlaunch report - . Nation: USA. Program: Mercury. Summary: The format of subject matter coverage for the first Mercury-Redstone postlaunch (MR-1) report was issued. This report, covering a full range of topics related to the mission, was to be submitted within 5 days after the launch..

1960 October 18 - . LV Family: Redstone. Launch Vehicle: Redstone MRLV.
  • Mission rules for Mercury-Redstone 1 (MR-1) issued. - . Nation: USA. Program: Mercury. Summary: A revision was published on Nov. 1, 1960..

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 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 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.

1960 December 20 - . LV Family: Redstone. Launch Vehicle: Redstone MRLV.
  • Mercury Redstone launch vehicle No. 2 delivered to Cape Canaveral - . Nation: USA. Program: Mercury. Summary: Redstone launch vehicle No. 2 was delivered to Cape Canaveral for the Mercury-Redstone 2 (MR-2) mission (chimpanzee 'Ham' flight)..

1961 January 16 - . LV Family: Redstone. Launch Vehicle: Redstone MRLV.
  • Mercury MR-1A postlaunch system evaluation tests - . Nation: USA. Program: Mercury. Summary: The Mercury-Redstone 1A (MR-1A) postlaunch system evaluation tests were completed at Cape Canaveral. Data disclosed that the instrumentation system, communication system, and other components had operated satisfactorily during the flight mission..

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 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 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 7 - . LV Family: Redstone. Launch Vehicle: Redstone MRLV.
  • Mercury Redstone launch vehicle No. 5 delivered to Cape Canaveral - . Nation: USA. Program: Mercury. Summary: Redstone launch vehicle No. 5 was delivered to Cape Canaveral for the Mercury-Redstone, Booster Development flight (MR-BD)..

1961 March 24 - . 17:30 GMT - . Launch Site: Cape Canaveral. Launch Complex: Cape Canaveral LC5. LV Family: Redstone. Launch Vehicle: Redstone MRLV. LV Configuration: Redstone MRLV-5.
  • Mercury MR-BD - . Nation: USA. Agency: NASA. Program: Mercury. Apogee: 181 km (112 mi). Summary: Suborbital test of Redstone modifications using a boilerplate Mercury capsule. The test was done at von Braun's insistence against Shepard's wishes, thereby putting the first US manned flight after Gagarin's..

1961 March 30 - . LV Family: Redstone. Launch Vehicle: Redstone MRLV.
  • Mercury Redstone launch vehicle No. 7 delivered to Cape Canaveral - . Nation: USA. Program: Mercury. Flight: Mercury MR-3. Summary: Redstone launch vehicle No. 7 was delivered to Cape Canaveral for the Mercury-Redstone 3 (MR-3) mission..

1961 April 4 - . LV Family: Redstone. Launch Vehicle: Redstone MRLV.
  • Glenn, Grissom, and Shepard refresher course on centrifuge for Mercury - . Nation: USA. Related Persons: Shepard; Grissom; Glenn. Program: Mercury. Glenn, Grissom, and Shepard began refresher course on centrifuge in preparation for the first manned Mercury-Redstone suborbital flight. John Glenn, Virgil Grissom, and Alan Shepard began a refresher course on the Aviation Medical Acceleration Laboratory centrifuge in preparation for the first manned Mercury-Redstone suborbital 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 28 - . LV Family: Redstone. Launch Vehicle: Redstone MRLV.
  • Simulated countdown for Mercury MR-3 - . Nation: USA. Program: Mercury. Flight: Mercury MR-3. Summary: A simulated countdown for the first Mercury-Redstone manned suborbital flight (MR-3) was successfully completed..

1961 May 1 - . LV Family: Redstone. Launch Vehicle: Redstone MRLV.
  • Webb warns of Mercury failures. - . Nation: USA. Related Persons: Webb. Program: Mercury. NASA Administrator Webb issued a statement concerning the 2-year Mercury manned space flight program, which said, in part: "NASA has not attempted to encourage press coverage of the first Mercury-Redstone manned flight. It has responded to press and television requests, with the result that over 100 representatives of the press, radio, and TV are now at Cape Canaveral. . . . We must keep the perspective that each flight is but one of the many milestones we must pass. Some will completely succeed in every respect, some partially, and some will fail. From all of them will come mastery of the vast new space environment on which so much of our future depends."

1961 May 2 - . LV Family: Redstone. Launch Vehicle: Redstone MRLV.
  • Mercury MR-3 postponed. - . Nation: USA. Program: Mercury. Flight: Mercury MR-3. Summary: Manned Mercury-Redstone (MR-3) launch postponed because of rain squalls in the recovery area..

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 9 - . LV Family: Redstone. Launch Vehicle: Redstone MRLV.
  • Kennedy decision to allow MR-3 flight defended. - . Nation: USA. Related Persons: Kennedy. Program: Mercury. Flight: Mercury MR-3. Senator Robert S. Kerr, chairman of the Senate Aeronautical and Space Sciences Committee, told a group at the National Radio and Television Convention that President Kennedy accepted the views of NASA and congressional leaders in approving the manned Mercury-Redstone flight of May 5.

1961 June 12 - . LV Family: Redstone. Launch Vehicle: Redstone MRLV.
  • Mercury Redstone launch vehicle No. 8 delivered to Cape Canaveral - . Nation: USA. Program: Mercury. Flight: Mercury MR-4. Summary: Redstone launch vehicle No. 8 was delivered to Cape Canaveral for the Mercury-Redstone 4 (MR-4) suborbital flight mission..

1961 June 22 - . LV Family: Redstone. Launch Vehicle: Redstone MRLV.
  • Redstone for Mercury MR-4 manned suborbital flight erected - . Nation: USA. Program: Mercury. Flight: Mercury MR-4. Summary: The Redstone booster for the Mercury-Redstone 4 (MR-4) manned suborbital flight mission was erected on Pad 5, at Cape Canaveral..

1961 June 22 - . LV Family: Redstone. Launch Vehicle: Redstone MRLV.
  • Mercury MR-4 recovery requirements - . Nation: USA. Program: Mercury. Flight: Mercury MR-4. Summary: Mercury-Redstone 4 (MR-4) recovery requirements were forwarded by the Space Task Group to the Navy..

1961 July 13 - . LV Family: Redstone. Launch Vehicle: Redstone MRLV.
  • Mercury-Redstone 4 (MR-4) manned suborbital flight mission rules were published. - . Nation: USA. Program: Mercury. Flight: Mercury MR-4.

1961 July 13 - . LV Family: Redstone. Launch Vehicle: Redstone MRLV.
  • Mercury MR-6 static engine test - . Nation: USA. Program: Mercury. Flight: Mercury MR-6. Summary: Mercury-Redstone 6 was static tested for 30 seconds at Marshall Space Flight Center to ensure satisfactory operation of the turbopump assembly..

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 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 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 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 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..

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