Alan B. Shepard, Jr.

November 18, 1923 - July 21, 1998

Rear Admiral, U.S. Navy (Retired)
Born November 18, 1923, East Derry, New Hampshire
Bachelor of Science from U.S. Naval Academy

"Thank you, Alan, for starting it all"

About the Man

Alan Shepard attended primary school in East Derry and graduated in 1940 from the Pinkerton Academy in Derry, New Hampshire. After graduating from the Naval Academy in 1944, Shepard served on the destroyer Cogswell in the final year of WWII.

After the war, Shepard received naval flight training at Corpus Christi Naval Air Station, Texas, and Pensacola Naval Air Station, Florida. So eager to fly, Shepard received a pilot's license at a civilian flying school before winning his Navy wings in March 1947. In 1950, Shepard went to the US Navy Test Pilot School at Patuxent River, Maryland. There, he served two tours in flight test work.

When NASA sent out invitations to 110 of the top test pilots to join its newly-formed manned space program in 1959, Shepard was disappointed because he did not receive one. It turned out that his invitation was misplaced. Shepard was invited and became one of America's first astronauts.

Shepard was an established engineer and a top-notch pilot. For his share of the technical work among the Original Seven, Shepard took on the task of focusing on the tracking range and recovery teams needed to pull the astronauts and their spacecrafts out of the water after their spaceflight.

Sadly, Alan B. Shepard passed away on July 21, 1998, after a long illness.

About the Spaceflights

Mercury 3 (Freedom)


May 5, 1961

The 15-minute suborbital flight of Mercury 3 was launched at 9:34 am and reached an altitude of over 116 miles. Although Gagarin was the first man in space, his flight was shrouded in secrecy. Millions worldwide saw Alan Shepard's launch into space. We witnessed his retrun from space, and the recovery of the man and capsule.

Alan Shepard was the first of the Original Seven to fly into space, and his "15 minutes of Fame" prompted celebrations and parades in Los Angeles, New York, and Washington in his honor. Shepard holds the distinction of being the first American in space, only 23 days after Cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin's spaceflight.

Sub-Orbital Flight Duration: Fifteen Minutes, Twenty-Two Seconds

Apollo 14

Jan. 31-Feb. 9, 1971

Alan Shepard was commander of the Apollo 14 mission and he was the fifth man to walk on the Moon. Apollo 14 was the third mission to achieve a lunar landing. The area chosen for the Apollo 14 lunar landing was very close to the area planned for the Apollo 13 mission, which failed to land because of an explosion in the Apollo 13's service module.

The crew of Apollo 14 collected a significantly larger amount of lunar material and scientific data than in previous landing landing missions. This was made possible due to a collapsible, two-wheeled cart, called the modular equipment transporter, (MET for short). The Apollo 14 astronauts used the MET to carry tools, cameras, a portable magnetometer, and lunar samples.

The astronauts performed two extravehicular activities, EVA's, on the moon's surface, totaling 9 hours and 21 minutes. Alan Shepard became the first person to hit a golf ball on the Moon prior the end of the second and last moon walk for the crew of Apollo 14.

Flight Duration: Nine Days, One Hour, and Fifty-Eight Seconds

Click on the patches to read about Alan Shepard's spaceflights
in more detail at the Kennedy Space Center.

Mercury 3 patch 

Alan B. Shepard's Guestbook

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NASA's Second Group of Astronauts
A Second Group is Chosen

NASA's Third Group of Astronauts
Another Group is Needed

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