[MUSIC] On December 17th, 1958, 55 years to the day after the Wright Brothers completed history's first manned airplane flight. NASA announced the name of the new manned satellite program, Project Mercury. The Mercury Program was the first step in America's effort to launch an astronaut into space and ultimately, land on the moon. The Mercury Program introduced America to the nation's newest heroes, the original seven Mercury astronauts. It was their stories portrayed in Thom Wolfe's 1979 book, The Right Stuff. US President John F Kennedy had a deep commitment to the political goal of beating the Soviets. But privately, lacked a visionary interest in space despite his often stirring public speeches. Quote, we choose to go to the moon in this decade and do the other things not because they are easy, but because they are hard, unquote. This contradiction is apparent in a tape recording of a White House meeting that occurred November 21st, 1962. Recording below released in 2001 by the JFK Library in Boston. Documents Kennedy's fending off the concerns of NASA administrator, James Webb. That the US risks a very public failure in its push to achieve the lunar landing goal. Webb asserted that the United States should have a broader goal in space activities. Kennedy responded quote, this is whether we like it or not, a race. Everything we do in space ought to be tied into getting to the moon ahead of the Russians, unquote. Kennedy told Webb that winning the moon race was top priority of the agency. And except for defense, the top priority of the United Sates government. Otherwise he said, we shouldn't be spending this kind of money because I'm not that interested in space. [MUSIC] Early in 1959, NASA had worried about three scientific unknowns, needing resolution before actual attempts to conduct man orbital flights. NASA administrator, T Keith Glennan, listed the following issues that required investigation before humans could go into space. The problems known to exist include one, high energy radiation, both primary and cosmic ray. And the newer plasma type discovered in the IGY Satellite Series. Two, man's ability to withstand long periods of loneliness and strain while subjected to the strange environment. Of which weightlessness is the factor least evaluated. And three, reentry into the atmosphere and safe landing. The reliability of the launching rocket must be increased before a manned capsule is used as a payload. Once these basic questions have been answered he said, then we can place a manned vehicle in the orbit about the Earth. The following were the original objectives of the Mercury Project. Place a man spacecraft in orbital flight around the Earth. Investigate man's performance capabilities and his ability to function in the environment of space. And recover the man and the spacecraft safely. After the objectives were established for the project, program development guidelines were written. Mainly that existing technology and off the shelf equipment should be used wherever practical. The simplest and most reliable approach to system design would be followed. An existing launch vehicle would be employed to place the spacecraft in orbit. And a progressive and logical test program would be conducted. More detailed requirements for the spacecraft were then established. Specifically, the spacecraft must be fitted with a reliable launch escape system. To separate the spacecraft and its crew from the launch vehicle in case of impending failure. The pilot must be given the capability of manually controlling spacecraft attitude. The spacecraft must carry a retro rocket system. Capable of reliably providing the necessary impulse to bring the spacecraft out of orbit. A zero lift body utilizing drag braking would be used for reentry. And the spacecraft design must satisfy the requirements for a water landing. [MUSIC] >> [INAUDIBLE] was prepared for space flight, so too was the most important system, man. >> The problem of selecting pilots to represent the United States in space was approached from the same uncompromising direction. From all of the active duty pilots in the Navy, Marines and Air Force, the service records of 473 test pilots were selected for review. 110 met the basic qualifications. Each must be a graduate of a Navy or Air Force test pilot school. 1,500 hours of flight time, qualified in jet aircrafts, an engineering background. Younger than 40 at the time of selection, and 5'11" or less into the human centrifuge. [MUSIC] These reactions are studied. The results will indicate how he fared under multiple gravity forces. Did he show a tendency to pull back? No. Was his tolerance level low or was it high? Now, can we shake his equilibrium? [MUSIC] How does this affect his pulse and blood pressure? And what about his mental balance, his imagination, his personality, motivation? How does he see the different problems of living, and how has life affected him as an individual. [MUSIC] Test his memory, comprehension, perception, visualization. [MUSIC] Ask him to describe himself in 100 different ways with a battery of tests [MUSIC] Now take him up to 65,000 feet for one hour in a pressure chamber. [MUSIC] [MUSIC] [SOUND] Now have him do this for five minutes. [MUSIC] Then ask him to take a walk. Walk until his heart beats 180 times a minute. Elevate the incline one degree every minute. [MUSIC] These tests continued until all 32 men had been evaluated. [MUSIC] >> In the field of space flight controls, this trainer at NASA's Lewis Research Center in Cleveland, demonstrates the possible motions of a capsule in space. [MUSIC] >> Before the flight of human American astronauts in sub orbital Mercury project tests, a chimp named Ham took the first ride. Let's take a look at the story of that first 16 minute rocket ride. >> The environmental control system in the capsule is tested in a pressure chamber. And the chimpanzees are subjected to the same pressure and oxygen conditions that the astronaut will encounter when man to flights begin. One at a time, the chimpanzees are acclimated to the couch and the spacecraft through simulated flights in the pressure chamber. Reactions of the chimpanzees to the pressure chamber tests, are carefully studied as their training continues. [MUSIC] Originally selected for the MR2 flight because of their physical and mental characteristics, the chimpanzees turn out to be willing pupils. And they quickly endured themselves to Project Mercury personnel. Each of the candidates gets a complete medical checkup. Weight, temperature heart, ears, eyes. [MUSIC] Blood pressure. [MUSIC] Throat. And the honor goes to an astro chimp, who is nicknamed Ham. Holloman Aeromed is home base. A friendly little fellow, in a form-fitted couch, about to make his mark in history. Ham is laced in his couch, and wired for sound. The electrodes on his feet will give him a gentle shock in case he forgets what he has been taught to do about pulling the levers. [MUSIC] But Ham learned his lesson well. The red lever at least once every 20 seconds for the red light, and the white lever for the blue light. [MUSIC] [MUSIC] One, zero. Fire, liftoff. [MUSIC] And Ham is on his way. [MUSIC] In the control center, the flight surgeon's eyes are glued to his console, monitoring Ham's condition. Concern mounts, Ham's heartbeat and respiration climbed fast. [MUSIC] MR2 now leaves a visible trail, and is flying faster and higher than it should. An abort condition is indicated. Something is wrong. But with the abort system operative, the Mercury craft begins to behave exactly as programmed. The Mercury craft landed farther down range than programmed. The abort system worked. But Ham sustained 18 g instead of the normal 11 that was expected. But Ham is fine and MR2 was successful. Test objectives were achieved. Mercury systems worked in space. A man could have made the trip into space and back safely. MR2 was a significant milestone on the highway to man's flight into space. [MUSIC] >> On May 5th 1961, Alan B Sheppard became the first American in space. Launched on a Mercury Redstone rocket, the capsule he named Freedom 7 achieved an altitude of about 101 nautical miles, and was in weightless flight for slightly more than five minutes. Analysis of the mission results showed that Shepard effectively performed his assigned tasks during all phases of the flight. During the flight, Shepard observed the Earth and tested the capsule's attitude control system, turning the capsule around to face its blood heat shield forward for the atmospheric entry. Post flight analysis revealed that both Shepherd and the spacecraft were in excellent condition. A helicopter pickup was made of the space craft after the pilot had made his egress from the side hatch of the spacecraft, and had been hoisted aboard the helicopter. The pilot and the spacecraft were landed aboard the aircraft carrier, USS Lake Champlain, just 11 minutes after spacecraft landing. The spacecraft was brought back to Cape Canaveral the following morning. [MUSIC] >> On the morning of May 5th, 1961, the primary goal of Project Mercury came sharply into focus. Three successful unmanned flights had proved that the Redstone launch vehicle and spacecraft were ready for man's application. Today the ballistic mission will be flown once again. But this one, Mercury Redstone number 3, would be different. For Navy commander, Alan B Shepherd, the countdown had begun months earlier. From the day he was selected to be the first American to attempt suborbital space flight, he had undergone 40 separate simulated flights. Three days ago, he had stood as he stood now, when the flight was scrubbed for weather. But today, May 5th, the weather was go. The launch vehicle and the spacecraft named Freedom 7 were go. The launchpad crews and down range recovery forces were go. As the launch and flight of Freedom 7 were monitored by Mercury control, it became apparent that all systems were functioning perfectly. At five minutes and 14 seconds after launch, at a peak altitude of 116 statute miles, the retro rocket fired, and astronaut Shepard and Mercury spacecraft Freedom 7 began his long plunge back to earth. Astronaut Alan Shepard, the first American to achieve space flight, was successfully recovered from Mercury's spacecraft, Freedom 7. His recovery, and also that of the spacecraft Completed all the mission objectives of Mercury rest stop number three. The next step in the program. [MUSIC] >> Since early in my term, our records in space have been under review. For the advice of the Vice President who is chairman of the National Space Council, we have examined where we are strong and where we are not, where we may succeed and where we may not. Now it is time to take longer strides, time for a great new American enterprise. Time for this nation to take a clearly leading role in space achievement, which in many ways may hold the key to our future on Earth. >> [APPLAUSE] >> I believe we possess all the resources and talents necessary. But the facts of the matter are that we have never made the national decisions or marshall the national resources required for such leadership. We have never specified long range goals on an urgent time schedule, or managed our resources and our time so as to ensure their fulfillment. >> [APPLAUSE] >> I therefore ask the Congress, above and beyond the increases I have earlier requested for space activities, to provide the funds which are needed to meet the following national goals. First, I believe that this nation should commit itself, to achieving the goal before this decade is out, of landing a man on the moon and returning him safely to the earth. No single space project in this period will be more impressive to mankind or more important for the long range exploration of space. And none will be so difficult or expensive to accomplish. In conclusion, let me emphasize one point, it is not a pleasure for any President of the United States, as I'm sure it was not a pleasure for my predecessor, to come before the Congress and ask for new appropriations which place burdens on our people. I came to this conclusion, with some reluctance. But in my judgement, this is a most serious time in the life of our country and in the life of freedom around the globe. And it is the obligation, I believe, of the President of the United States to at least make his recommendations to the members of the Congress so that they can reach their own conclusions with that judgment before them. You must decide yourselves as I have decided. And I am confident that whether you finally decide in the way that I've decided or not, that your judgment as my judgment is reached in what is in the best interest of our country. >> [APPLAUSE] >> Virgil Gus Grissom was the next Mercury astronaut to fly. He launched on July 21st, 1961 and made a sub-orbital flight similar to that of Alan Shepherd. The capsule, named Liberty Bell 7, was somewhat different than Freedom 7 in that it had a large top window. A side hatch to be opened by an explosive charge and a modified instrument panel. The spacecraft achieved a maximum altitude of about 103 nautical miles with a period of weightlessness of about five minutes. The flight was successful. After landing premature and unexplained actuation of the spacecraft explosive side hatch resulted in an emergency situation in which the spacecraft was lost. But the pilot was rescued from the surface of the water. See the unit titled Space Flight Disasters for more information about the perilous rescue of astronaut Grissom. >> Three. Two. One. Ignition. Lift off. Lift off. [NOISE] [INAUDIBLE] And looking good, it looks like a good launch. Go baby, go. Straight as an arrow. Should be a little pitch over here to go into trajectory. It looks like a good launch. [INAUDIBLE] Trajectory is a okay. [NOISE] Flight surgeon reports the pilot is excellent physical condition. [NOISE] Gus reports he's picking up a little bit of the noise and vibration. >> February 20, 1962 marked the day that the United States embarked upon orbital space flight with the successful mission of John Glenn who orbited the Earth three times during his nearly five hour flight prior to re-entry. Glenn's flight served to accomplish one of the major milestones of the Mercury Program which was to put a human in orbit. Glenn was hailed as an American hero. His New York ticker tape parade was larger than Charles Lindberg's reception after his solo flight across the Atlantic Ocean 35 years earlier. Although the United States Space Program still lagged behind the Soviet Union's program, Glenn's flight helped close the gap between the two competing nations. And gave America's citizens a boost of confidence. [MUSIC] >> With number six, which began in the pre-dawn of February 20th, 1962, was the largest and most significant to date in the Mercury program. At the launch complex 2600 people were engaged in pre launch preparations. For those who watched and waited, an even more basic objective is recognized. Our nation was about to meet the challenge of manned space flight. [MUSIC] [SOUND] The atlas with spacecraft Friendship 7 rose slowly at first, then much more rapidly as it gained speed with altitude. After two minutes booster engine cutoff occurred as programmed, and the booster section was jettison. The escape collar, now unneeded, was also jettison. Five minutes after launch, the space vehicle, at an altitude of 100 miles seco sustainer engine cutoff. The spacecraft was released from the launch vehicle and the part agreed rocket fired. Near the end of the third orbit between Hawaii and the California coast, the retro rockets were fired to slow the spacecraft for re-entry into the atmosphere Astronaut Glenn and his spacecraft Friendship 7 landed well within the planned recovery area. All mission objectives had been achieved. Including a realization of the primary goal of the Mercury program, to put a man in orbit around the earth. And recover him safely. But the MA6 flight has done even more. It had demonstrated conclusively that man was a necessary requirement for space flight to implement decisions beyond ground control limits. To supplement automated systems with his reason and technical skill, the scope of man's space life has- >> Three. Two. One. Zero. Ignitions. Liftoff. They have a [INAUDIBLE] [SOUND]. [NOISE] [INAUDIBLE] [NOISE] Flight seems to be on target so far. [SOUND] Looks like a good flight of gold I mean. >> That means this vehicle is climbing nicely. [MUSIC] Every one of us believed that we'd lose at least one, possibly even more astronauts during the Mercury program. And the risks were incredibly high. When we put John Glenn on board a rocket, he was flying the sixth Atlas, and two of the previous five had blown up. >> As Friendship 7 finally lifted off the pad at 9:47 that morning, Cap Com Scott Carpenter, had the last word. >> With Godspeed, John Glenn. Ten, nine, eight, seven, six, five, four, three, two [NOISE] [SOUND] 20 seconds, three, two, one, launch. >> Roger. Back up clock is started. [SOUND] >> Roger. 0J capsule is turning around. [MUSIC] Oh that view is tremendous. >> Glenn was falling around the earth at nearly 18,000 miles an hour, 12 minutes after lift off he was over Africa. As he traversed the night sky over Australia, residents of Earth blinked their lights to say hello. >> Roger. The lights show up very well. Thank everybody for turning them on, will ya? >> Sure will, John. >> Roger, how are you doing Gordo? >> Roger, how are you doing Gordo, we're doing real fine up here everything is going very well. Over. >> Very good, John. You sound good. >> Roger. That was sure a good day. >> Time passes rapidly, huh? >> Yes, sir. >> Half a world away, in mission control, there was sudden cause for concern. An indicator suggested that Glenn's inflatable landing bag was deployed. Located just beneath his heat shield, a problem with the bag meant the shield itself might be loose, in which case Glen would flash into vapor during the 9,000 degree reentry through the atmosphere. As he passed into his second sunrise of the day, Glenn knew none of this. He was transfixed by thousands of what looked like fireflies dancing in the sunlight just outside his window. Hypnotically beautiful their origin a complete mystery, Glenn excitedly reported his findings, trying to accurately and as passionately describe what he was seeing. Nobody below seemed very interested. Passing over Australia, Glenn asked onsite CAPCOM Gordon Cooper to mark him down as having logged the four hours of flight time he needed to qualify for February's flying bonus. The $245 would be added to his monthly salary of $904.68. In mission control, the decision was made to bring Glenn down at the end of his third orbit. >> We made a very risky decision to reenter with a retro rocket package attached. Because the retro rocket had straps that would hold the heat shield in place, until the aerodynamic pressures on reentry would maintain it in that position. So that was a very close call. >> Now Glen demanded to know what was going on. Alan Shepard advised him that he was to perform a manual reentry, with the retro pack attached. And then, he told him why. >> We are recommending that the retro pack not, I say again, not be jettisoned. This also means that you will have to retract the scope manually. Do you understand? >> Roger, I understand. I will have to make a manual 05g entry when it occurs. And bring the scope in manually. Is that affirmed? >> That is affirmative, Friendship 7. >> Roger, retracting scope manually. [SOUND] >> While you're doing that. We're not sure whether or not your landing bag has deployed but we feel it's far safer to reenter with the retro package on. We see no difficulty at this time in that type of reentry. Over. >> Roger. Understand. >> I was more concerned that we were gonna cause damage to the heat shield by having the pack on there as much as I was worrying about it coming off. [SOUND] [MUSIC] >> Friendship Seven this is Gate do you read me? [SOUND] >> Friendship this is a real fire bomb outside. [SOUND] [MUSIC] [SOUND] This is Friendship 7. I think the package has let go. >> The heat of re-entry creates an ionized layer around the spacecraft that radio waves can't penetrate. Mission control, and the world, would have to endure four minutes of silence without knowing whether Glen had made it through. [MUSIC] Main chute is on green, chute is out and condition at 10,800 feet and beautiful chute. [MUSIC] >> In the end, the problem had been neither landing bag nor heat shield, just a bad indicator light in mission control. John Glenn had earned his bonus with a perfect flight that had held America riveted since early that morning. The New York ticker tape parade would be larger than the one that greeted Lindbergh 35 years earlier, but that was still to come. For now, John Glenn stood alone on the deck of the recovery ship Noa, contemplating his fourth sunset in just over five hours. There were three more Mercury missions planned, each with dangers that would be all too real. But that too was still to come. [MUSIC] [MUSIC] >> The man who conquered outer space makes a new conquest as he takes New York by storm. >> [APPLAUSE] There's been nothing like it in history. Thirty-five years ago, Gotham went wild over Lindberg when we returned from his solo hop across the Atlantic. And there have been many wild receptions to returning heroes since. But today tops them all as Colonel John H Glen has the town at his feet. Up lower Broadway from Bowling Green, the Colonel and his fellow astronauts are showered by a storm of torn paper and ticker tape, only the tape is thinner, for modern stock market machines don't use the same tape that was was such a part of receptions in decades past. How big is the crowd? It's well beyond accurate estimates, but we'll quote Mayor Robert Wagoner. He puts it at four million, and the millions roar. They roar acclaim never before equal in the city of traditional tributes to heroes. So overwhelming are their numbers that police lines are breached time and again as the people fight to get even closer to the man of the hour. Right in proper places of honor are Colonel Glen's fellow astronauts, the men who are helping blaze trails into the future. [MUSIC] >> [APPLAUSE] >> During his brief stop at City Hall, Colonel Glenn signs New York's famous gold book that lists distinguished visitors. And from here, if they ever get his car through the crowd, he goes on to uptown luncheon in his honor. There were two bands in city hall plaza that were scheduled to play, but they were swallowed up by the crowd. Glenn gets into orbit once more, and is whisked to the luncheon where he is presented with New York City's gold medal of honor, an award that is normally presented only to heads of state. Climax of a great day in the life of a great hero. Tribute to a man who made history. A salute to Colonel John H Glenn, the man who sent an entire nation into orbit. >> For months the second Mercury capsule planned to take an astronaut into orbit had steadily been readied on launch pad LC14. Space craft number eighteen. Fresh from McDonnel's assembly line in Saint Louis, Missouri has been placed above an Atlas D rocket and painstakingly readied for the next opportunity to leave Earth. The official mission objective is simple. Corroborate man in orbit. The task, however, was anything but. It would be complex, sophisticated, and potentially dangerous. The early morning launch of the Atlas D rocket was near perfect. However, trouble soon arrived as Aurora 7 slipped into orbit. As was experienced by John Glenn in the Friendship 7 capsule, the spacecraft's pitch horizon scanner, an important navigational device for properly aligning the spacecraft's orientation to the planet, had malfunctioned. Upon discovery of the malfunctioning scanner steps are taken to manually correct the flight path. However, the adjustments only address a few of the problems that will plague the mission. During the first dark side pass, Carpenter maneuvers his craft to observe ground flare experiments in Australia. By too eagerly pulsing the maneuvering jets to rotate the capsule from side to side, the limited hydrogen peroxide fuel supply is depleted faster than ground controllers anticipate. >> Fuel levels are lower than expected. By remaining in automatic I can stop this excessive fuel consumption. >> With the aggressive rotations comes an excessive heat buildup inside the capsule. Carpenter reports that sweat is interfering with his vision and making course adjustments much more difficult. >> Aurora 7, how are you feeling? [INAUDIBLE] Last time around, someone told me it was 102. I don't feel, you know, like I'm that hot. Cabin temperature is 101. >> NASA flight doctors note a spike in Carpenter's body temperature. >> We are reading 102 right now. But as long as you feel okay right now. >> Roger, I feel fine. >> Which may explain the slowed speech pattern in various reports the astronaut had made to ground control. Engineers meet to plan an abort. However, a discussion with ground technicians and flight controllers resolved to continue the mission. Soon, planned observations of weightless liquid and orbital targeting balloons, photography of terrestrial features and other meteorological phenomena, are carried out. All the while, ground control stations around the globe maintain a watchful eye on the slowly depleting fuel supply. Unknown to Carpenter or anyone on the ground, another malfunction awaits. A timing mechanism for the retro rockets attached over the ablative heat shield, and key to slowing the capsule for reentry, is not working properly. As the time for the rockets to fire automatically comes and goes, Carpenter must manually flip the trigger switch within a second. Two seconds later, the light of the three rockets illuminate the night. >> You'll have to use attitude bypass and and manual override. >> Roger. >> Three. Two. One. Zero. >> Okay. Fire one. Fire two. And fire three. >> Although three seconds may not appear critical, when traveling over 17,500 miles an hour, or literally five miles per second, three seconds equates to fifteen miles back on the ground. To survive his descent back into the thick atmosphere of Earth, Carpenter would need to gingerly coax what little fuel remained and make minor re-entry angle adjustments to control his falling capsule by manually steering the capsule and keeping the horizon in view through his one and only window. G forces last longer than originally expected on the descent, but they are welcome as it means aerodynamic pressure is being exerted against the capsule and helping to keep an even trajectory. On the way down, at 120,000 feet, Carpenter exhausts the very last of his fuel controlling the plummeting capsule. If he failed to do so, the capsule might have toppled completely 180 degrees and faced topside down. Such an occurrence would point the Drogue parachute in the wrong direction and snap the capsule back around so violently that the chute could be destroyed or severely injure Carpenter. Oscillation become worse, and the capsule begins to sway through a 270 arc, almost a full circle. Carpenter has no choice but to manually deploy the drogue shoot early, at 26,000 feet, 5000 feet higher than anticipated to stabilize the craft. He holds his breath as the six-foot drogue comes out. In good shape. And the descent comes back into control. Soon, the altimeter shows 10,000 feet. Carpenter manually deploys the chute and slows the craft before splashdown. Back on the ground, Gus Grissom, the second American in space, and now Capsule Communicator, or CapCom, at Cape Canaveral control center, advises Carpenter he had indeed overshot his target area and that recovery teams were on their way. Approximately 45 minutes after his splash down, 1000 miles southeast of the Cape, planes from the USS Intrepid spot his location. Two rescue swimmers soon meet from orbiting helicopters to ensure Carpenter is safe, and then proceed to secure a flotation collar to the bobbing capsule. A few hours later, the second American astronaut to orbit the Earth arrives aboard Intrepid. And then, to Grand Turk Island for debriefing. Carpenter is later awarded the NASA distinguished service medal by administrator James Webb during a ceremony held at Cape Canaveral on May 27, 1962, on behalf of a grateful nation. His successful mission to carry out important tests and experiments will ultimately show the Mercury spacecraft system can be improved and become a stable and safe capsule for other manned orbital missions to follow. Aurora 7, a critical step on the path to where we will walk tomorrow. >> My intention was to use so little fuel that no one could argue that we had enough fuel aboard Sigma 7 for 18 orbits if we wanted it. I think I proved that point. >> Sigma 7, Hawaii CapCom. >> Roger, Hawaii CapCom. Sigma 7. >> All quantities and systems are green, flying great. >> Okay, fine. Cape feels you're in good shape, Wally, and so I have good news, they give you a go for six orbits. >> Hallelujah. >> Emergency retro jettison fuel switches on. >> Roger. They are on. Retro jet is armed. Got sunlight, everybody's very happy. I'm going to fly by wire, Al, to pick up the re-entry attitude. Manual is going in. >> And we're showing you have about 68% auto, and 84% manual fuel left. I think our reading's about. >> I got six eight auto and seven eight manual, heading by the retro jet. I have retro jet and light is green. I could hear it by the way. >> Very good, we confirm retro jet. >> Typically one must talk about the nine hours of weightlessness. I don't believe I can recollect anything about weightlessness any more than Al Shepard could from the first time people asked him on it when he was sleeping on his flight. To me, it felt like I was flying another vehicle just as if I were flying an airplane. [NOISE] >> Here it goes, drogue and main is out and oh she's out and beautiful. Bright blue sky, I can see the wreath and looks like a sweetie pie. I feel marvelous. This was a beautiful flight, wasn't it? [MUSIC] I'm about ready to impact now, I'm just about on the water. [NOISE]. Okay, I've taken a while to right itself, but I think I've got the small end out of the water here. [INAUDIBLE] bird, I just can't get over it. >> [INAUDIBLE] >> Roger, 10-4, this is Astro, how are you today? >> I'm fine, got you on the give me a short com, please. >> Roger, short com follows. One, two, three, four, five. Five, four, three, two, one. This is Astro Sigma 7, very happy to be back in the Pacific Fleet. >> Okay, in the water. >> Roger. >> Howdy fellas. They know I'm all right I assume, I heard them knock on the capsule. >> Astro, this is the pilot, the carrier is about three quarters of a mile. Closing. >> Okay, fine. I would prefer to stay in and have a small boat come along side using your collar routine, of course, to support me and having a good pick up. Over. >> Roger. I understand you want just small boats. Give them that word right away. >> Sigma seven was dry as a bone. I was comfortable. I should say that the recovery courses I practiced, I knew that Captain Rankin had practiced with his crew to pick me up, and I decided I want to come aboard first class, and did. They've extended our envelope now to nine hours. I feel that some concern has been expressed in the past from incomplete reports from other sources that state that this might be a problem. I'm here to say there was no problem at all, there was no break off phenomenon, there was no uneasiness, there was no queasiness. I felt great, I would have liked to have continued for the balance of 12 more orbits. [MUSIC] As the dust and debris settled from the craft's departure, I stepped out on the number three elevator and requested permission to come aboard. This is a novel way for a carrier aviator to come aboard a carrier. >> The Mercury program was a huge success by any measure. All of the program's goals were accomplished within four and a half years, and it set the stage for the United States' development of the Gemini Program. The early successes in the Mercury program provided president John Kennedy the confidence to declare that it was America's goal to send humans to the moon before the end of the 1960s. The Cold War between the Soviet Union and the United States served as a backdrop for the Mercury program, with each rocket launch watched on live television by millions of citizens who believed victory in the space race represented victory of America over the Soviet Union.