Project Mercury: Freedom 7 – 1970’s Space Documentary

the heavens have always presented a
challenge to man many secrets remain locked in space secrets that have
puzzled them for centuries the search for knowledge about space is underway
hundreds of scientific rockets and satellites have been launched as the
information is collected from space it is made available to people all over the
world already startling and practical advances in many scientific fields have
resulted on projects such as these information
was obtained from scientific instruments in the rockets and satellites now man
himself is to follow these mechanical devices Cape Canaveral Florida
may 5th 1961 u.s. mercury astronaut Alan B Shepard enters his spacecraft very
shortly he will be on his way into space as the hatch goes on two big questions
come to your mind is the vehicle ready are you ready before the flight shepard
had this to say i think the one thing that strikes me as i look back on the
training program is that i have really developed a feeling of confidence a
confidence in the people with whom I work a confidence in the systems with
which I am dealing and will have to deal in flight and of course a confidence in
myself you’re confident but you’re human and you go over the program just one
more time a feeling of confidence it began to grow from the day you and your
six fellow astronauts were selected from hundreds of volunteers confidence in the
people of Project Mercury the spacecraft and the launch vehicle and confidence in
yourself you were involved in the design of the mercury system almost from the
beginning contributed ideas and modifications you worked with the
engineers came to know the components and systems like you know your own car
and you followed the tests test after test after test to make sure the design
did what it was supposed to do while research and development was
underway you went through almost two years of training ukume mission after mission in a trainer
just like the craft you’re sitting in today they came completely familiar with
every control and instrument an academic program informed you and the
other pilots on astronautics space mechanics and spaceflight kept you
briefed on all new developments in the project zero-gravity flights in aircraft
accredit you at the condition of weightlessness you would encounter in
flight you got in a lot of centrifuge time too
today’s flight won’t submit you to any g-forces you haven’t experienced before
the program simulated every possible situation you know you’re ready to react
almost automatically you practice controlling the craft
attitude by manual control of pitch roll and yaw Jets that will be part of your
mission today and you’re confident that you can do it you piled up plenty of experience in the
three-dimensional rotation you know that even if tumbling situations occur after
separation you can bring the craft under control with your manual control system
there were continuing flights in high-performance aircraft they were
important to you too your inexperience test pilot flying is your business in
any type of craft you remember extensive training in escape and survival
techniques there is always the slight chance the spacecraft male and outside
the pre-planned area as you sit in the spacecraft waiting for launch you know
your training has covered every conceivable eventualities every
emergency no matter how unlikely as Project Mercury got underway
production of redstone launch vehicles began at the Marshall Space Flight
Center careful individual production of vehicles earmarked for mercury from the
day the first bolt came into the plant the Redstone was available and with
modifications it would do the job at the Macdonald Aircraft Company plant
at st. Louis just three months after project inception prototype spacecraft
production was begun a few short months later production spacecraft were being
completed your trip to the production points were important you became
thoroughly familiar with the mercury systems the closer you got to the system
the more confident he became you followed the flight test program closely
components then systems and prototypes and production craft a pyramid of
testing a pyramid of tests that would lead to manned flight you knew that data
and know-how was being gathered to reduce the risk element on every flight the recovery forces were
exercised procedures were developed to locate the craft and retrieve it it
became obvious that the craft would not be in the water very long after landing
a chimpanzee named ham and to monkey successfully flown in the spacecraft
indicated the feasibility of manned flight then all this was behind and you
knew everything humanly possible had been done to minimize risk to you and to
the other astronauts it was time now for manned ballistic flight mercury-redstone
3 at Cape Canaveral launch pad 5 preparations for the mr3 flight began
weeks before launch day you went out and watched the Redstone slowly carefully
raised into place on the launch pad you knew that you might be the pilot for
about 10 days prior at a meeting with the spacecraft the Redstone underwent
exhaustive tests inspections and simulated launch operations this vital
part of the mission to launch vehicle must be as near perfect as man can make
it before the spacecraft is installed you and your fellow astronauts followed
the test program closely while the redstone was being checked the
spacecraft underwent test procedures at hangar us several miles from the launch
pad test the electrical systems the mechanical systems communications
instrumentation DC control system verify flight readiness you participated in
many of the tests and check out yourself you had worked closely with the vehicle
for many months if possible you got even closer to it during the days just before
launch you worked with the mercury engineers and technicians as they
prepared the craft the feeling of confidence in the mission became even
stronger your fellow astronauts worked with the same team effort that had
prevailed over the two years of getting ready you couldn’t be everywhere at once
but they could cover for you and as you sit in the spacecraft you know
everything is as ready as it can possibly be they covered the control
center the blockhouse the launch vehicle the tracking stations they kept a finger
on the pulse of the operation the spacecraft was checked out in a pressure
chamber capable of 120 thousand foot altitudes to test the environmental
control system and then you were added to the system you made sure that your
pressure suit and the life-support system were working properly you knew that you weren’t just going for
the ride you would be required to gather information make practical contributions
make sure you collected useable data you remember the final days in hangar s the
retrorocket package being installed and you know the care the attention to every
detail that went into the final servicing the escape tower with its
solid propellant rocket the system which will pull the spacecraft safely clear of
the launch vehicle before a catastrophic failure either on the pad before launch
during the launch or while the vehicle is in powered flight
it’s a reassuring thought as you go through your pre-launch countdown when
each spacecraft system has been thoroughly checked out a complete
simulated launch and flight operation was run to make certain all the systems
work together as well as individually and then the mercury spacecraft was
moved to the launch pad to be mated with its launch vehicle at the pad the
spacecraft was raised to position on top of the vehicle now you knew that the
final round of testing was at hand this flight will provide an added
qualification for the spacecraft and its systems in space and train a pilot for
later Atlas boosted orbital flights after mating the testing began to make
certain the launch vehicle spacecraft and blockhouse work together properly
the launch countdown was checked step-by-step and the complete mr3 system
was verified to confirm Flight Readiness complete flight missions from liftoff
through landing both for normal and for emergency cases were flown
electronically the spacecraft was heavily instrumented to provide
pertinent data during the flight throughout this period all the elements
of the mission made their preparations recovery forces tracking stations the
mercury Control Center rehearsed the mission again and again
you and your fellow astronauts rehearsed your parts went through the procedures
over and over three days before launch a go/no-go review board evaluated the
flight readiness of all the mission elements spacecraft launch vehicle
pilots tracking stations recovery forces everything the decision go the recovery
forces were dispatched and on their way to their stations downrange May 1st 1961
less than two and a half years from Project Mercury initiation countdown for
a manned flight was in progress and that’s a day that you will never forget
mr3 followed a split countdown about four hours the first day a little over
six hours the second day this procedure helps reduce personnel fatigue hydrogen peroxide fueling this is used
in the spacecraft attitude control system the first days countdown was
completed with this operation very early in the morning may 2nd the final
countdown is underway liquid oxygen for the launch vehicle before this operation
a meeting had been held to review the weather situation the weather was
marginal but the decision go at the mercury control center
every detail of the countdown and status of all other elements such as the
recovery forces in the tracking stations was carefully monitored the mercury
Operations Director manages the entire flight from the center in the blockhouse
systems checks were completed in the spacecraft launch vehicle checks were
also completed the recovery forces were on station in Orion along the flight
path ready to retrieve the craft even if there should be an undershoot or an
overshoot you remember the final physical at hangar s the feeling that
now at last the time was almost at hand and you remember the feeling of
confidence that you had confidence that all systems were ready and that you were
ready to before leaving the hangar for the launch
pad you had sensor leads attached to your body these leads would provide
telemetered data on your body functions and reactions during the flight
mercury flights are designed to provide comprehensive information about man
during space flight information that can be used by people all over the world in
their own research projects and then it happened you remember the letdown
feeling you got when this Rockbox gave the word test number one zero eight Mr
three was scrubbed because of whether a letdown feeling yes but it was
reassuring to know that the mission would not go unless everything was right
then it was Friday native three days later and the countdown was proceeding
again you remember the feeling you had that this was the day there’d be no
scrub today the mission would go do you remember the ride to the pad in the
transport van you had rehearsed the procedure before takin the ride to the
pad and climbed into the spacecraft but this time you knew it was the real thing all a feeling of confidence as astronaut
Shepard goes through the pre-launch countdown
he knows the system is as ready as human effort can make it doctors in the
mercury control center and the blockhouse monitor Shepards
physiological status during the countdown astronaut Gordon Cooper
assigned to the black house during the launch operation stays in direct voice
contact with Shepard as the gantry is pulled back the emergency vehicle known
as the cherry picker is raised into position an armored car is located at
the pad it can operate in any terrain at the viewing stands about two miles away
hundreds of press radio and television representatives stand by to witness the
launch a helicopter stands by to take a doctor anywhere he might be needed
astronauts carpenter and Shara take off to make direct aerial observation of the
early portion of your flight an amphibious vehicle is standing by
ready to move out if necessary to make a closed-in recovery the recovery force
helicopters are airborne all elements of the mission have
reported ready to the control center and the launch is go okay you’re always resembling half Roger
ready to resume out the ste turn over to stony par-5 McAfee Tony take it over a
second are we going out here seven last time I
remember Roger come on hurry
what Roger periscope has retracted at the first group of it rain plus 24 volts
X amps all right liftoff and the clock has started is there any allowance clear this is
freedom Sara the fuel is go 1.2 T Kevin at 40 psi oxygen is go heaven fire is holy 5.5 Kevin holy good
525 we always go in Freud 5ki you haven’t
5.5 are tedious code bee buzzes 24 the isolated firing is 29 very surprised
accredited every year he always go 45.5 candid how do you go all systems are go doesn’t breathe okay
fuck you man your pity America that is okay ready to pay off your your is okay
ready aro bro okay I’m a periscope what a
beautiful view bar cover over Florida freedom 14th heated cost of secures up
to Hatteras 3m7 and keep your nook three pack properly okay okay
okay 45,000 feet down Roger the job is clean at 21 to burst Oprah’s
out the target out okay you drop employers at seven zero percent follow
time zero percent pay off Octus jockey and breed being she’s
reached be sure his green faces coming on race day looks good
I paid suit is good reading this is reading about 35 feet per second oh just really my cadena still can’t
help anybody for a fact mr3 followed a normal ballistic arc
peaking at about 115 mile altitude the spacecraft landed 300 miles downrange
the complete flight took 16 minutes and gave alan shepard about 5 minutes of
weightlessness just 11 minutes after the spacecraft
landed Shepard in the craft were on the lake champlain complete and detailed
information on the flight and on Alan Shepard was recorded from launch to
recovery information to be made available to scientists and interested
people the world over within minutes after the flight Shepard received a well
done from the President on behalf of the people of the United States a well done
accepted by Shepard as a representative of all the people in Project Mercury Project Mercury another step in man’s
search for knowledge freedom 7 another step toward man in space you you you you you

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