I clearly remember sitting on the sidewalk by the ball diamond north of Lincoln Elementary school one winter day. While others played softball, hoping to emulate Mickey Mantle or Roger Maris, I had only one thing on my mind - a single man orbiting the Earth alone. I listened in amazement as John Glenn in Friendship 7 sped over one continent and ocean after another, never daring to dream that some sixteen years later I would be streaking solo through the sky, albeit lower and slower, in a spam can of similar size. I can say that for me, flight is still as fascinating as it was that brisk February day some four decades ago.
Length 9.5 feet
Diameter 6.2 feet
5 May 1961
First American in space. First manual orientation of a manned spacecraft.
Liberty Bell 7
21 July 1961
20 February 1962
First American in orbit.
24 May 1962
3 October 1962
Speed record (17,560 mph).
15 May 1963
Diameter 16.5 feet
Length 20.4 feet
Length 19 feet
Diameter 7.5 feet
Gus Grissom, John Young
23 March 1965
First spacecraft to maneuver in orbit. First flight of Gemini spacecraft. First time for an American to fly twice into space.
Jim McDivitt, Ed White
3 June 1965
First American space walk. First American long-duration spaceflight.
Pete Conrad, Gordon Cooper
21 August 1965
First American flight to seize duration record from Soviet Union.
Wally Schirra, Tom Stafford
15 December 1965
First rendezvous of two spacecraft.
Frank Borman, Jim Lovell
4 December 1965
Record flight duration to that date.
Neil Armstrong, Dave Scott
16 March 1966
First docking of two spacecraft. First American emergency landing.
Gene Cernan, Tom Stafford
3 June 1966
Mike Collins, John Young
18 July 1966
First free space walk from one spacecraft to another. First rendezvous with two different spacecraft in one flight. Altitude (474 miles) record.
Pete Conrad, Dick Gordon
12 September 1966
Speed (17,902 mph) and altitude (853 miles) records. First docking with another spacecraft on first orbit after launch. First test of tethered spacecraft.
Buzz Aldrin, Jim Lovell
11 November 1966
First completely successful space walk.
Length 11.5 feet
Diameter 12.8 feet
Apollo 7 - Earth Orbit
Walt Cunningham, Donn Eisele, Wally Schirra
11 October 1968
First manned test of the Apollo spacecraft.
Apollo 8 - Moon Orbit
Bill Anders, Frank Borman, Jim Lovell
21 December 1968
First manned flight to lunar orbit. Speed (24175 mph) and altitude (235,191 miles) records.
Apollo 9 - Earth Orbit
Jim McDivitt, Rusty Schweickart, Dave Scott
First manned test of the Lunar Module. First test of the Apollo space suits. First manned flight of a spacecraft incapable of returning to earth.
Apollo 10 - Moon Orbit
Gene Cernan, Tom Stafford, John Young
18 May 1969
Speed record (24,846 mph).
Apollo 11 - Moon Landing
Buzz Aldrin, Neil Armstrong, Mike Collins
16 July 1969
First manned lunar landing.
Apollo 12 - Moon Landing
Alan Bean, Pete Conrad, Dick Gordon
14 November 1969
Apollo 13 - Aborted Moon Landing
Fred Haise, Jim Lovell, Jack Swigert
11 April 1970
Altitude (249,205 miles) record.
Apollo 14 - Moon Landing
Edgar Mitchell, Stu Roosa, Alan Shepard
31 January 1971
Only Mercury astronaut to reach moon.
Apollo 15 - Moon Landing
James Irwin, Dave Scott, Al Worden
26 July 1971
First use of lunar rover on moon.
Apollo 16 - Moon Landing
Charlie Duke, Ken Mattingly, John Young
16 April 1972
Apollo 17 - Moon Landing
Gene Cernan, Ron Evans, Jack Schmitt
7 December 1972
First geologist to walk on the moon.
Apollo-Skylab 2 - Earth Orbit
Pete Conrad, Joseph Kerwin, Paul Weitz
25 May 1973
Apollo-Skylab 3 - Earth Orbit
Alan Bean, Joseph Garriott, Jack Lousma
28 July 1973
Apollo-Skylab 4 - Earth Orbit
Gerry Carr, Gibson Edward, Bill Pogue
16 November 1973
Apollo-Soyuz - Earth Orbit
Vance Brand, Deke Slayton, Tom Stafford
15 July 1975
First docking of spacecraft from different countries.
Each space flight listed on this page brings back poignant memories as I followed their every orbit, rendezvous, rocket burn, and splashdown. From the first eyewitness reports of a returning capsule under parachute canopies, to the afternoon I listened live to the words, "Tranquility Base here, the Eagle has landed," to the morning my Dad woke me up with news of a problem aboard Apollo 13 - space flight has been very personal to me. I feel truly blessed to have grown up in the most fascinating era in history. I guess my heros have always been space cowboys.