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Space Exploration

National History Day Topic: Frontier

The First of its Kind

The beginning of Project Mercury (1958) also marked the beginning of the X-series rockets in September 1957. This rocket holds the potential of incredible speed unprecedented of the time of space exploration. The X-15 began testing new grounds upon completion and had monumental success on their first try "In an 83-second surge of power reaching more than 400,000 mph, the X-15 accelerates from 600 to more than 400,000 mph, climbing steeply to 150,000," claimed by the X-15 pilot.  New innovations build upon prior results got United States closer to becoming leaders in the Space Age. 

The X-15 experiments was embraced early rocket design being bird-like yet modern in appearance resembling rockets in later projects. On its first try, the X-15 succeed to penetrate the atmosphere, traveling where no conventical plane could fly. During each flight, the pilot will be screened and performed physical to examine their conditions: body temperature, radiation count, respiration, blood pressure, and pulse rate will be measured, and the system of the X-15 will be checked. The concern for safety just so happened to allow Beckman Instruments to supplied resources for the Gemini and Apollo Project.

Historical Events of Project Mercury (Unmanned Test to Manned Flight)

Mercury Atlas (MA-2)- February 21, 1961, marked its launched in Cape Canaveral, Florida. This was recognized by scientists as a successful flight before manned orbital flight could be attempted. This was an unmanned flight with the goal to enter the atmosphere. The capsule was recovered 4 minutes after it was landed.

Little Joe 6- March 6, 1961, marked its launched in Wallops Station, Virginia, just 14 second prematurely to the countdown timer. The goal of the project was to test the escape system and the structure, under the maximum aerodynamic force during the abort mission. In result, the operation was met with little success, but the capsule was able to be recovered.

Mercury Atlas (MA-3)- April 25, 1961, was the second significant launched in Cape Canaveral though it was aborted 40 seconds after liftoff, the safety officers cut off fuel for the booster. Although the mission was a catastrophe, the system was not damaged.

Little Joe 5B- November 8, 1960, interestingly reflown on April 28, 1961, from the Wallops Station, Virginia to re-attain the original flight objective- to test the capsule system escape system. Although the test was successful, there was a delay of lift-off about 5 seconds, and the attitude of the flight was 14,000 feet less than expected.

Project Mercury-Redstone (MR-3) also known as Freedom 7 was launched at Cape Canaveral, Florida on May 5, 1961. The captains were Alan Shepard and Virgil Grissom were the first Americans in space. Back when rocket Redstone was previously flown in MR-2 on January 31, 1961, there were slight modification to keep system regulated. A thrust regulator, a velocity regulator, and a boilerplate Mercury capsule were seen with the rocket. Maintaining the condition of the rocket was one step for manned flight, Captain Shepard and Grissom both completed physical examination before the flight.

Project Mercury-Atlas also known as Friendship 7 was launched at Cape Canaveral, Florida on February 20, 1962. Captain John Gleen, previously the back polit for the first manned suborbital flight, selected for this space expedition. Despite the launched was hindered by delay, the take-off effortlessly orbited space without consequences.

United States. National Aeronautics and Space Administration. (October 1, 1960 through June 30, 1961) Fifth Semiannual report to the Congress. Washington, D.C.: U.S. Government Printing Office: 1962.