Gallery: America's first small step into space - 50 years ago
by Andy Smith | May 5, 2011, 6:52am PDT | Image 1 of 19
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On May 5, 1961, Alan Shepard was the pilot who became the first American to escape Earth's atmosphere. He spent 15 minutes in space, reached a peak altitude of 116 miles and traveled at a top speed of 5,180 miles per hour.
A Redstone, similar to the one above, was converted from a ballistic missile into the Mercury-Redstone rocket that propelled Shepard into space.
Read Larry Dignan's post about the IT behind Shepard's flight.
Image 1 of 19