This Day in History

Alan Shepard made history on May 5, 1961, as the first American to travel into space, aboard the spacecraft Freedom 7. His suborbital flight, which came just a few weeks after Yuri Gagarin’s orbital flight, ignited a fierce sense of competition and pride that would fuel the U.S. efforts in the ensuing Space Race. Shepard’s 15-minute journey not only demonstrated America’s capabilities in space exploration but also embodied the adventurous spirit and technological ambition of an entire nation during the Cold War era.