Project Mercury: US astronaut Wally Schirra, in a Sigma 7, is launched from Cape Canaveral for a six-orbit flight.

Project Mercury was the first human spaceflight program of the United States, running from 1958 through 1963. An early highlight of the Space Race, its goal was to put a man into Earth orbit and return him safely, ideally before the Soviet Union. Taken over from the US Air Force by the newly created civilian space agency NASA, it conducted 20 uncrewed developmental flights, and six successful flights by astronauts. The program, which took its name from Roman mythology, cost $2.38 billion. The astronauts were collectively known as the "Mercury Seven", and each spacecraft was given a name ending with a "7" by its pilot.

Project Mercury: US astronaut Wally Schirra, in a Sigma 7, is launched from Cape Canaveral for a six-orbit flight.

October 3, 1962

Project Mercury: US astronaut Wally Schirra, in a Sigma 7, is launched from Cape Canaveral for a six-orbit flight.

Project Mercury was the first human spaceflight program of the United States, running from 1958 through 1963. An early highlight of the Space Race, its goal was to put a man into Earth orbit and return him safely, ideally before the Soviet Union. Taken over from the US Air Force by the newly created civilian space agency NASA, it conducted 20 uncrewed developmental flights, and six successful flights by astronauts. The program, which took its name from Roman mythology, cost $2.38 billion. The astronauts were collectively known as the "Mercury Seven", and each spacecraft was given a name ending with a "7" by its pilot.