SHEPARD, Alan Bartlett (1923-1998), Mercury 7 Astronaut. Partly printed document signed ("Alan Bartlett Shepard Jr.") and dated ("15 May 1961"), comprising a "Vehicle Commander's Report," FOR THE FIRST AMERICAN SPACE FLIGHT. 1 page, 4to, blanks filled in by typewriter. Very Fine.
The document is headed "Vehicle Commander's Report," and under "Record Classification" application is made for two world records: "(a) Altitude without Earth Orbit" and "(b) Greatest Mass lifted without Earth orbit." For "Make and Type of Vehicle," the Mercury 7 is specified: "Project Mercury Spacecraft No.7 (Ballistic Capsule)" The launch site, and its longitude and latitude are noted: "Pad 5, Complex 56, AFMTC, Cape Canaveral, Florida," and the return site is similarly indicated: "263.1 N.M. downrange from launch site." At the bottom right, beneath Shepard's signature, he is identified as: "Vehicle Commander Astronaut Alan Bartlett Shepard, Jr."
On May 5, 1961, Shepard made history, becoming the first American astronaut with a brief but dramatic 14.8-minute suborbital flight in the Mercury 3 capsule, launched from Camp Canaveral. Shepard's momentous flight took place only four months after the first Russian space flight by Cosmonaut Yuri Gaggarin. Ironically, Werner Von Braun had urged that an earlier test flight, on 24 March, be manned. If that flight had taken place it would have preceded Gagarin's by three weeks and Shepard would have been the first man in space. Shepard attended Annapolis, took flight training, became a test pilot for the Navy and was tapped for the American space program in 1959. After the historic Mercury 7 flight, he did not return to space until Apollo 14, which carried out the third lunar landing.