Based on the original audio recordings
Less than a month after Yuri Gagarin became the first man in space, NASA launched Alan Shepard on its first suborbital manned flight. Although in some ways not as ambitious as Gagarin's orbital flight, Shepard's mission both included manual control of the spacecraft, and saw the pilot land safely in the Mercury capsule.
This site allows you to explore transcripts of radio communications between Alan Shepard aboard Freedom 7 and the NASA personnel back in Florida, along with photographs taken both from the ground and in space.
How the site works
The main textual content of this site comes from a transcript of radio communications between the crew and mission control; there are some limitations which stem from the original recordings.
Each line starts with a timestamp, in Ground Elapsed Time, which is the time (in days, hours, minutes and seconds or some subset for shorter missions or where we don't have timestamps down to the second) since lift off; photographs are shown inline at a suitable place. You can navigate through the transcript using the phases of the mission, and key scenes within them, or search for things that might interest you using the box at the top of the page. While browsing through the transcript, there are also links that take you to the same place in the original typescript.
The Mercury capsule's callsign through the mission is Freedom 7 or just 7; the primary CAPCOM (capsule communicator) was Deke Slayton at the Cape. CARDFILE 23 (or just 23 or 2-3) was an aircraft assigned to assist communication during re-entry.
You can help
This site can be improved, and you can help — whether by correcting remaining errors (although we hope there aren't many left), by adding more photos, or marking further glossary items. The easiest way to report small errors, suggest new photos and so forth, is by dropping us an email to email@example.com.
We would also be keen to talk to people about cleaning and converting transcripts and other information from other space missions, particularly for the early NASA missions in the Mercury, Gemini and Apollo programs, where transcripts are already available.
There's a simple guide to getting involved, or if you're more technical all our code, and the transcript files, is available on github, where there is information on how to get up and running. (If you're up to it, you can even fork the repository, and issue a pull request to us when you're done.)
- Ryan Alexander
- James Aylett
- George Brocklehurst
- David Brownlee
- Ben Firshman
- Mark Norman Francis
- Andrew Godwin
- Steve Marshall
- James Aylett
- Emily Carney
Joseph Wain of glyphish.com
- Sunset over Earth by NASA's MSFC (CC By-NC)
- Smoke Plume, Caspian Sea, Kazakhstan from NASA's Earth Observatory
Other images are from NASA or are otherwise in the public domain.