Space Suit of the Week

Astronaut Alan Shepard. First American in Space

Alan Shepard. The first American in Space

Aside from being Cinco de Mayo, yesterday was also the 50th anniversary of Alan Shepard’s inaugural orbit in space. Shepard was the first American and the second human to orbit in space, beat only by Yuri Gagarin a few weeks prior.

Shepard safely completed his 15½ minute flight and became an instant hero. He had sat in a nose cone on top of a Redstone rocket and been exploded into the atmosphere. He received accolades, parades, and met President Kennedy. His successful mission motivated the President to appear before a joint session of Congress just a few weeks later and challenge the country to send a man to the moon.

Here is a letter Shepard sent to his parents two years before his flight. He repeatedly uses the word “daddy” while telling about his upcoming trip to Washington for consideration in the Man in Space program. He, of course, would go on to become the first American in space and the fifth man on the moon. When asked what he was thinking about before his first launch into space, he replied “every part of this ship was built by the low bidder.”


May 6, 2011