- Historical event:
- 05 May 1961
- The President of the United States John F. Kennedy, the First Lady Jackie Kennedy, and their associates also watched the television coverage of this flight.
On this day in 1961, Alan Shepard, a 37-year-old officer of the U.S. Navy, became the first American astronaut to travel into space.
The Americans didn’t like the fact that the Soviet Union had had its first successful flight (Gagarin) only about three weeks ago. Shepard became the second man in history to travel into space, after Gagarin.
Unlike Gagarin, who made an orbital flight around the planet, Shepard’s flight lasted about 15 minutes.
His spacecraft reached a maximum altitude of about 187 kilometers, and then set down. The launch was carried out in Florida, and Shepard’s aircraft crashed into the Atlantic Ocean near a village, about 487 kilometers away from the launch point (east of the Bahamas).
The President of the United States John F. Kennedy, the First Lady Jackie Kennedy, and their associates watched the television coverage of this flight.