Project Mercury


Barbara J. Feldman

Project Mercury (1959 – 1963) was the first manned American spaceflight program. With the success of its Mercury-Atlas 6 flight on February 20, 1962, the project achieved its goal of putting an American astronaut (John Glenn) into orbit around the earth. Project Mercury took place at the height of the international space race, and was an important component of the Cold War between the Soviet Union and the Western world.

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  • The Atlantic: The Historic Flight of Mercury 64 stars

    See what the Mercury spaceflight program looked like by scrolling through this huge collection of large high-resolution full-color and black-and-white photographs from the Atlantic magazine. With most of the photos coming directly from NASA and the Associated Press, this article is a time capsule allowing you to travel back in time to the start of the space program. "After being postponed ten times, the launch [of Mercury-Atlas 6] finally boosted Glenn into space, where he made three successful orbits at 17,400 miles per hour, returning safely home to a national celebration."

  • NASA: Kennedy Space Center: Mercury5 stars

    The Kennedy Space Center has been the launch site of all human-manned space flights since 1968, so it is one of the best sources of information on manned space flights, including the very first ones launched as part of Project Mercury. The goals, objectives, and guidelines of the project are clearly laid out: "To orbit a manned spacecraft around Earth; to investigate man's ability to function in space; [and] to recover both man and spacecraft safely." These, plus information about astronaut selection, are all explored in detail.

  • NASA: Mercury5 stars

    February 20, 2012 marks the 50th anniversary of the successful Mercury-Atlas 6 flight. Although this NASA site was built five years ago (in celebration of the 45th anniversary) these resources are all still relevant. They include videos, interviews, and photo slideshows in addition to articles, and the original 1960's press releases. Best clicks include the multimedia Americans in Orbit, and History of Human Space Flight.

  • Scott Carpenter: Project Mercury5 stars

    "The Project Mercury astronauts were chosen after a five-phase, three-month selection process that winnowed 508 Phase 1 candidates (all military test pilots) down to 110 candidates eligible for Phase 2, during which 32 finalists were identified as eligible for further testing." Take a look at space flight through the eyes of Scott Carpenter, the second US astronaut to orbit earth. Learn how Carpenter dealt with "balky suit temperature settings and cabin temperatures that peaked at 108 degrees F." Click the link on the left-hand menu to learn more about the Aurora 7 spacecraft that Carpenter flew.

  • U.S. Centennial of Flight Commission: Project Mercury4 stars

    "NASA was established on October 1, 1958, and one week later, NASA formally created Project Mercury." Follow the history of Project Mercury step-by-step, with plenty of links throughout if you are curious about specific terms or particular astronauts. An extensive bibliography and list of additional resources - both online and offline - provide kids lots of extra sources to explore.

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  • Honorable Mentions

    The following links are either new discoveries or sites that didn't make it into my newspaper column because of space constraints. Enjoy!


    Cite This Page

  • Feldman, Barbara. "Project Mercury." Surfnetkids. Feldman Publishing. 7 Feb. 2012. Web. 23 Apr. 2014. <http://www.surfnetkids.com/resources/project-mercury/ >.


  • About This Page

  • By . Originally published February 7, 2012. Last modified March 9, 2014.

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