September 9, 1959: "Big Joe" unoccupied Mercury capsule launches on suborbital flight. It was the second flight in the Mercury program and first using an Atlas booster. This image shows "Big Joe" atop the Atlas rocket readied for launch. The capsule was recovered in the Atlantic. It is on display at the Udvar-Hazy Center. Photo credit: NASA
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50 Years Ago: Freedom 7 Flies Credit: NASA Fifty years ago, near the dawn of the space age, NASA controllers "lit the candle" and sent Mercury astronaut Alan Shepard arcing into space atop a Redstone rocket. His cramped space capsule was dubbed Freedom 7. Broadcast live to a global television audience, the historic Mercury-Redstone 3 (MR-3) spacecraft was launched from Cape Canaveral Florida at 9:34 a.m. Eastern Time on May 5, 1961...