Rear Admiral Alan B. Shepard, Jr.

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Rear Admiral Alan B. Shepard, Jr.

Inducted in 1993

The First American In Space, 1961
The Fifth Man To Walk On The Moon, 1971

1923 – 1998

Naval aviator Alan Shepard lifted off from Pad 5 at Cape Canaveral, Florida, on May 5, 1961, at 9:34 a.m. to become the first American in space. The small Mercury capsule he named “Freedom 7” was propelled into space by a slim but powerful Redstone missile. The suborbital flight reached an altitude of 116.5 miles (space begins at 100 miles altitude or 500,000 feet) at a maximum speed of 5,180 miles per hour. In 15 minutes and 22 seconds, the flight covered a distance of 302 miles downrange.

Born in East Derry, New Hampshire, on November 18, 1923, Shepard earned a bachelor’s degree at the United States Naval Academy in 1944. He served aboard a naval destroyer prior to acceptance for flight training, and by 1950 was testing jets on aircraft carriers. In 1959 he was selected to be one of the original seven astronauts.

Shepard served as Chief of the Astronaut Office, Johnson Space Center, from 1963 until 1969. In 1971, he commanded Apollo 14, the third manned mission to the moon, and became the fifth man to walk on its surface. He again served as Chief of the Astronaut Office from 1971 until 1974. He retired from the Navy at the rank of Rear Admiral.