American Manned Space Flight
The Capsules
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.
Mercury Flights

Length 9.5 feet
Diameter 6.2 feet

Mercury MR-3
Freedom 7
Alan Shepard
5 May 1961
First American in space. First manual orientation of a manned spacecraft.
Mercury MR-4
Liberty Bell 7
Gus Grissom
21 July 1961
Mercury MA-6
Friendship 7
John Glenn
20 February 1962
0.21 days
First American in orbit.
Mercury MA-7
Aurora 7
Scott Carpenter
24 May 1962
0.21 days
Mercury MA-8
Sigma 7
Wally Schirra
3 October 1962
0.38 days
Speed record (17,560 mph).
Mercury MA-9
Faith 7
Gordon Cooper
15 May 1963
1.43 days

Coming soon!


Diameter 16.5 feet
Orion will be capable of transporting up to six crew members to and from the International Space Station. It will carry four crew members for lunar missions. Later, it can support crew transfers for Mars missions.

Coming Sooner!


Length 20.4 feet
SpaceX's manned Dragon space capsule is a private spacecraft designed to carry seven astronauts on missions to and from low-Earth orbit.
Gemini Flights

Length 19 feet
Diameter 7.5 feet

Gemini 3
Molly Brown
Gus Grissom, John Young
23 March 1965
0.20 days
First spacecraft to maneuver in orbit. First flight of Gemini spacecraft. First time for an American to fly twice into space.
Gemini 4
Jim McDivitt, Ed White
3 June 1965
4.08 days
First American space walk. First American long-duration spaceflight.
Gemini 5
Pete Conrad, Gordon Cooper
21 August 1965
7.96 days
First American flight to seize duration record from Soviet Union.
Gemini 6
Wally Schirra, Tom Stafford
15 December 1965
1.08 days
First rendezvous of two spacecraft.
Gemini 7
Frank Borman, Jim Lovell
4 December 1965
13.77 days
Record flight duration to that date.
Gemini 8
Neil Armstrong, Dave Scott
16 March 1966
0.45 days
First docking of two spacecraft. First American emergency landing.
Gemini 9
Gene Cernan, Tom Stafford
3 June 1966
3.01 days
Gemini 10
Mike Collins, John Young
18 July 1966
2.95 days
First free space walk from one spacecraft to another. First rendezvous with two different spacecraft in one flight. Altitude (474 miles) record.
Gemini 11
Pete Conrad, Dick Gordon
12 September 1966
2.97 days
Speed (17,902 mph) and altitude (853 miles) records. First docking with another spacecraft on first orbit after launch. First test of tethered spacecraft.
Gemini 12
Buzz Aldrin, Jim Lovell
11 November 1966
3.94 days
First completely successful space walk.
Apollo Flights

Length 11.5 feet
Diameter 12.8 feet

Apollo 7 - Earth Orbit
Walt Cunningham, Donn Eisele, Wally Schirra
11 October 1968
10.84 days
First manned test of the Apollo spacecraft.
Apollo 8 - Moon Orbit
Bill Anders, Frank Borman, Jim Lovell
21 December 1968
6.13 days
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
March 1969
10.04 days
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
Charlie Brown/Snoopy
Gene Cernan, Tom Stafford, John Young
18 May 1969
8.00 days
Speed record (24,846 mph).
Apollo 11 - Moon Landing
Buzz Aldrin, Neil Armstrong, Mike Collins
16 July 1969
8.14 days
First manned lunar landing.
Apollo 12 - Moon Landing
Yankee Clipper/Intrepid
Alan Bean, Pete Conrad, Dick Gordon
14 November 1969
10.19 days
Apollo 13 - Aborted Moon Landing
Fred Haise, Jim Lovell, Jack Swigert
11 April 1970
5.95 days
Altitude (249,205 miles) record.
Apollo 14 - Moon Landing
Kitty Hawk/Antares
Edgar Mitchell, Stu Roosa, Alan Shepard
31 January 1971
9.00 days
Only Mercury astronaut to reach moon.
Apollo 15 - Moon Landing
James Irwin, Dave Scott, Al Worden
26 July 1971
12.30 days
First use of lunar rover on moon.
Apollo 16 - Moon Landing
Charlie Duke, Ken Mattingly, John Young
16 April 1972
11.08 days
Apollo 17 - Moon Landing
Gene Cernan, Ron Evans, Jack Schmitt
7 December 1972
12.58 days
First geologist to walk on the moon.
Apollo-Skylab 2 - Earth Orbit
Pete Conrad, Joseph Kerwin, Paul Weitz
25 May 1973
28.03 days
Apollo-Skylab 3 - Earth Orbit
Alan Bean, Joseph Garriott, Jack Lousma
28 July 1973
59.46 days
Apollo-Skylab 4 - Earth Orbit
Gerry Carr, Gibson Edward, Bill Pogue
16 November 1973
84.05 days
Apollo-Soyuz - Earth Orbit
Vance Brand, Deke Slayton, Tom Stafford
15 July 1975
9.06 days
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.
Gene & Sue's Home - Space Ship One - We Must Go - High Flight - Hangar 131
Confessions of a Pilot - Books about Astronauts