05 May '11, 7am

US marks 50 years since second human space flight

US marks 50 years since second human space flight

WASHINGTON : Three weeks after the world marked 50 years since Russia's Yuri Gagarin became the first man to travel in space, the United States is honouring the American who followed him, Alan Shepard. Shepard was a 37-year-old naval pilot whose trip into space on May 5, 1961 aboard the Mercury 3 spacecraft made him a celebrated American hero. His 15-minute suborbital flight was much shorter than Gagarin's 108-minute journey in orbit, but provided a patriotic lift to America's efforts to explore outer space after losing to Cold War rival Russia in the race to be first. "It was not a very celebrated flight, but it was key for the US space programme," said John Logsdon, former director of George Washington University's Space Policy Institute. The launch of Mercury's Freedom 7 mission was initially supposed to take place in March 1961 but was postponed due to technical proble...

Full article: http://www.channelnewsasia.com/stories/afp_world/view/112...

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