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May 2, 2016 - Light This Candle

Light This Candle  One of the original “Mercury Seven” astronauts, Alan B. Shepard, Jr. is seen here suited up inside the Freedom 7 capsule awaiting liftoff. After four hours of delays (and a demand by the impatient Shepard to “fix your little problem and light this candle”), the Redstone booster rocket ignited, launching the first American into space. Shepard’s suborbital flight, which took place fifty-five years ago this week, lasted fifteen minutes and reached an altitude of over 186 km (116 mi) before splashing down in the Atlantic. Born in New Hampshire in 1923, Shepard served in the U.S. Navy during World War II and became a test pilot. After his historic spaceflight Shepard was grounded due to an inner ear disorder, but eventually flew into space one more time—as commander of the Apollo 14 lunar landing mission.

Image credit: NASA

Weekly Calendar

May 2-8, 2016

Holidays - Sky Events - Space History


Monday 2

Neptune 1.7° south of Moon

Tuesday 3

2003: ISS Expedition Six crew returns to Earth after 161 days in orbit

Wednesday 4

Uranus 2° north of Moon

1967: Lunar Orbiter IV launched
1989: STS-30 Atlantis launched, releases Magellan spacecraft
2002: Aqua satellite launched

Thursday 5

Ascension Day
Cinco de Mayo

Eta Aquarid meteor shower

1961: Freedom 7 suborbital flight; Alan Shepard is first American in space

Friday 6

New Moon 3:30 PM ET
Moon at perigee
Eta Aquarid meteor shower

1968: Neil Armstrong ejects safely from Lunar Landing Research Vehicle before it crashes
1975: NASA announces that Canada will build the Shuttle robot arm

Saturday 7

1992: STS-49 Endeavour launched

Sunday 8

Mother's Day

Aldebaran 0.5° south of Moon

Suggestions for new history dates or better links? Corrections for errors on this page? Please e-mail me.