Searching for Freedom 7, 50 Years Later

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    NEWSLETTERS

    AP
    Alan Shepard in space suit boards Freedom 7 Mercury capsule.

    Thursday marks the 50th anniversary of America's first manned space mission.

    Alan Shepard, stuffed inside the Freedom 7 space capsule, blasted into space atop a Redstone rocket at 9:34 a.m. on May 5, 1961. The 15-minute sub-orbital flight was a crucial moment in U.S. space history, considering the Soviets sent a man into space for the first time just a few weeks earlier.

    Want to pay tribute to Shep and his historic mission on the 50th anniversary? First you have to find Freedom 7, which turned out to be a bit more difficult than we imagined.

    Our first call was to NASA. The representative we talked to didn't know where the capsule was, and that if anyone knew where it was, it would be the fine folks at the Smithsonian Air and Space Museum.

    So that was the next stop on our search.

    A rep from the museum, however, didn't seem to have the answer. "We do not have it on display," the rep said.

    Hmm...

    When all else fails, try Wikipedia.

    And sure enough, we found an answer: "The Freedom 7 is now on display in the lobby of the Armel-Leftwich Visitor Center at the U.S. Naval Academy, Annapolis, MD. It was placed there after Shepard's death in 1998."

    Not wanting to just rely on Wikipedia, we then called the Naval Academy, which confirmed that the capsule is on display in the Visitor Center in Annapolis.

    The spokesperson for the Academy said no special events were planned for today, but that everyone is welcome to stop in and pay tribute on this historic anniversary.

    For more details on the Armel-Leftwich Visitor Center, click here.