Mercury-Redstone booster gallery
- 1 Booster construction and testing
- 2 Unmanned Mercury-Redstone launches
- 3 Mercury-Redstone 3 (Freedom 7)
- 4 Mercury-Redstone 4 (Liberty Bell 7)
- 5 Display booster at Kennedy Space Center
- 6 Technical drawings
Booster construction and testing
Astronauts and other officials in front of a Mercury-Redstone booster at NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, circa 1960.
A Mercury capsule is mounted on a Mercury-Redstone booster, prior to test firing at Marshall Space Flight Center's Redstone Test Stand, circa 1960.
Unmanned Mercury-Redstone launches
Mercury-Redstone 1, the first attempt to launch a Mercury-Redstone, on November 21, 1960, failed in a quite peculiar fashion.
Moments later, while the booster umbilical is still falling toward the ground, an electrical fault causes the booster's engine to shut down and triggers the Mercury capsule's escape rocket to jettison itself. The booster rises only 4 inches before settling back onto the pad, and the capsule remains attached to the booster.
Mercury-Redstone 2 and Mercury-Redstone Booster Development
Another photo of the MR-BD launch. The truck in the foreground was there as a test. Manned Mercury-Redstone flights were supposed to have a "cherry-picker" vehicle near the rocket to provide an emergency escape route for the astronaut. The truck acted as a stand-in for the cherry-picker to determine whether it might be damaged by rocket blast.
Mercury-Redstone 3 (Freedom 7)
Mercury-Redstone 3 ("Freedom 7"), the first U.S. human space flight, was launched on May 5, 1961, at 9:34 AM EST. It carried astronaut Alan Shepard on a 15-minute sub-orbital flight which reached a height of 116 miles (187 km) and landed 302 miles (486 km) from the launch site.
The booster ignites as its umbilical mast drops. The mist around the tail is formed by the frigid liquid oxygen entering the engine during ignition.
Freedom 7 lifts off. The engine's thrust has dissipated the mist. The exhaust plume is very pale because the engine burns ethyl alcohol fuel.
"Shock diamonds" are visible in the exhaust plume. The umbilicals for the capsule and booster can be seen lying beside the launch stand.
Mercury-Redstone 4 (Liberty Bell 7)
Mercury-Redstone 4 ("Liberty Bell 7") was the second U.S. human space flight. It was launched on July 21, 1961 at 7:20 AM EST, carrying astronaut Gus Grissom to a height of 118 miles (190 km) and landing 302 miles (486 km) from the launch site.
Display booster at Kennedy Space Center
Mercury-Redstone booster MR-6 was a production booster that was never launched. Instead it was erected as a permanent display at the Visitor Information Center at Kennedy Space Center (KSC), near Cape Canaveral. The booster stood for many years, until it was toppled by Hurricane Frances in September 2004. As of 2009, MR-6 is in storage awaiting repair.