Questions tagged [project-mercury]

Project Mercury was the first human spaceflight program of the United States.

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Why did the manned Mercury-Redstone flights carry and use retrorockets?

The Mercury-Redstone programme, a subset of the Mercury human spaceflight programme, used a modified version of the Redstone missile for suborbital flights in space. It culminated in two manned ...
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Why didn't Project Mercury advance to an orbital flight on their second mission?

Manned programs are noted for progressing through a series of flights. Early missions focus on basic hardware and simple tasks; as the technology becomes proven, the scope and duration of later ...
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Project Mercury capsule switch orientation

I noticed that the majority of the toggle switches in the Mercury capsules move in a left-to-right manner. This seems unusual to me, since Gemini, Apollo and the Shuttle all predominantly use up-down ...
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Why did the cones of the Mercury and Gemini capsules have a neck?

As highlighted by the green double-arrow lines in the pictures below, the Mercury and Gemini capsules had a (roughly) cylindrical "neck" at the end of the capsule cone. If they had instead followed ...
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Did any “washouts” of the Mercury program eventually become astronauts?

The movie The Right Stuff portrays several dozen candidates for Project Mercury, who are eventually culled down to the final seven astronauts. Did any of the unsuccessful candidates for the Mercury ...
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Did astronaut candidates have a lung capacity test, as portrayed in the movie The Right Stuff?

One memorable scene in the movie The Right Stuff portrays a lung capacity test. The astronaut candidates blow into a tube with water and a ping-pong ball. They must blow just hard enough to keep the ...
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Why did Ham the Chimp push levers?

This answer explains how the experiment was set up and some of the results of the experiment. My question is why did they have Ham do anything? I understand sending a chimp prior to human flight (...
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Did Ham the Chimp follow commands, or did he just randomly push levers?

The first American to operate spacecraft controls (instead of being a passive passenger) was Ham the chimpanzee. He was trained to push some levers, which he did about 50 times during his flight. ...
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How did Shepard's and Grissom's speeds compare with orbital velocity?

As is often said here and in XKCD, an orbit isn't merely high up... it's also going fast. The first two American astronauts -- Alan Shepard and Gus Grissom -- did indeed get "high up" enough to ...
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Looking for veterans of the Space Race [closed]

Hi everyone. I am writing an oral history of the men and women who worked at Cape Canaveral and KSC during Mercury, Gemini and Apollo. If you know someone that fits the bill, or know how to find them, ...
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Help reading this Mercury era NASA “ancient” iconography

In a collectspace.com forum, I found the following (merged) thread containing images, questions and answers: http://www.collectspace.com/ubb/Forum29/HTML/000962.html The two images below are ...
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CAPCOM Console at Mercury Control Center; what does “Desired Retrofire Setting” time display mean?

Wikipedia's Cape Canaveral Air Force Station page links to the image Alan Shepard in Mercury Control Center (shown below). The console has two large digital time displays. One is dedicated GMT but ...
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What are the thrusters present on the side of the Mercury-Atlas launch vehicle?

I just watched a documentary about the Mercury program and was wondering what those "side rockets" (don't know how to call them properly) are for? Further stability or generating some extra thrust? ...
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Why was the Friendship 7 Mercury heat shield detachable?

We know that just before reentry started, there was concern over a signal which indicated that the heat shield which would protect the capsule from the heat of reentry had become detached. This would ...
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What are some specific examples of the calculations human “computers” did for the Mercury space program?

The movie Hidden Figures tells the story of three black women who were "computers" for the Mercury space program. They performed calculations related to orbits, launches, aerodynamics, etc. What are ...
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What caused John Glenn to see what he described as “fireflies”?

What caused John Glenn to see what he described as "fireflies"? I've heard three different explanations. If it's true that it was pee and sweat, could you explain how and why it was collected, and ...
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Where to look for historical or reconstructed orbit data for early NASA missions - Mercury-Atlas 6 for example

After reading this answer I decided that for my own use I'd like to plot the orbit of Mercury-Atlas 6, the spacecraft piloted by John Glenn on February 20, 1962. This thorough answer lists fourteen (...
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How many earth stations had astronauts on-site during John Glenn's orbit in Friendship-7?

The Washington Post just republished it's February 21, 1962 article covering the launch, Earth orbit, and safe re-entry and recovery of (Senator) John H. Glenn, in recognition of his service and ...
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How was time kept on board early manned spaceflights?

I have not been able to find a definitive answer to this. From Mercury to Gemini to Apollo, what was the mechanism for keeping time onboard the spacecraft? Did the Engineers spend energy (and maybe ...
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Who really coined the phrase “Light the Candle!” to commence with a rocket launch?

This NASA's image of a Mercury-Redstone rocket Freedom 7 carrying Alan Shepard, the first American in space, is titled Light the Candle:        Light the Candle (Image ...
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Where can I find relevant papers describing the cryptographic algorithm(s) and/or techniques used within KY-171 and KY-172?

The KY-171 Audio Frequency Coder was used for the NASA Project Mercury (1958-1963) to encode radio traffic between ground stations, as well as between ground stations and the space capsule. It was ...
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Size of Apollo era astronauts

I had read that the early astronauts were all 'short guys'. This made a lot of sense. A short man can have as much stamina and endurance as a large man, yet eat less, consume less oxygen & (...
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Did NASA use metric units for the Mercury missions?

Did NASA use metric or English units for Project Mercury? For example, did they measure delta-v in meters/second or in feet/second?
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Are Mercury/Apollo/Gemini capsules visible in any museum?

Is it possible to visit some of the famous American capsules in any museum?
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Is there any reason why American spacesuits color changed over years?

From Mercury silver suits to orange Space Shuttle ones, color of space suits have changed over years. Is there any reason for it?