Dr. Voula Saridakis revisits this mission of firsts.
May 24, 2022
Today marks the 60th anniversary of the Mercury-Atlas 7 mission of NASA’s Project Mercury. The Museum of Science and Industry is the current home of the capsule from that mission, the Aurora 7 (on loan to MSI from the National Air and Space Museum), which launched into space on May 24, 1962. Piloted by astronaut Scott Carpenter, this was the fourth crewed flight of Project Mercury and repeated the three Earth orbits of John Glenn’s previous Mercury-Atlas 6 mission. Carpenter was the first astronaut to perform science experiments in space. These included the first study of liquids in weightlessness, Earth photography, and an (unsuccessful) attempt to observe a flare fired from the ground. This mission set the precedent for conducting scientific research and experiments in space that are now everyday activities on the International Space Station (ISS). This orbital science research, from Aurora 7 to the ISS, has expanded humanity’s scientific and technological knowledge while also advancing human space exploration.