50TH Anniversary of First American In Space-Alan Shepard

May 5, 2011 at 11:03 am | Posted in Regular Feature, Science News, Star Wars News | Leave a comment

It was 50 years ago today, on May 5TH 1961, that Alan Shepard took to the skies to become what is regarded as the first American in space. As my readers know I would personally dispute that assertion as I feel Joe Kittinger’s flight in a weather balloon in August of 1960 was the actual first human space flight. It predated both Alan Shepard’s Freedom 7 flight and cosmonaut Yuri Gregarin’s flight by almost a full year. Still, this is the officially recognized anniversary of the first U.S. manned space flight.

Here we see alan Shepard as he ponders the effects of 1/5 gravity on a game of hacky sack.

Having said that, Alan Shepard was among the group of men who pioneered American Space exploration. He, along with men the likes of Chuck Yeager, Gus Grissom and Neil Armstrong, brought the U.S. and the world headlong into the space age. His is one of my personal heroes for his bravery and commitment to country and his fellow man. I also admire the man for being one of the biggest meathead pranksters to ever put on a pressure suit.

Seemingly a man of great bravery and intergrity he was also possessed of a sharp wit and a comic sense of timing. As the Redstone rocket that was to propel the Freedom 7 capsule into history sat on the launchpad he was quoted as saying, “Dear Lord, please don’t let me f%(& up.” Considering the tension in the control booth as the countdown neared zero it was the moment of levity that the mission specialists needed to break the tension and have a successful launch. This quote has thus been dubbed, “Sheppard’s prayer” and I assume has been uttered with varying success by nearly every other person to ever sit atop a giant flaming trash can as they prepared to be hurled off the planet. After the Freedom 7 capsule was recovered from the Atlantic he quipped, “…I didn’t really feel the flight was a success until the recovery had been successfully completed. It’s not the fall that hurts; it’s the sudden stop.”

That is just one example of the humor and joviality Lt. Col. Shepard maintained. When one considers the accomplishments of a man such as this you would assume he was a far more serious fellow. Instead you find the man who was not only the fifth man to ever walk on the moon and was the commander of Apollo 14 but…. well you would hardly believe me so watch the brief video below and I’ll discuss is after the break.

That’s right, he smuggled a 6 iron aboard Apollo 14 and went golfing on the moon. He went golfing. on. the. moon.

The legend is he orchestrated the entire outing himself as he just wanted to be the first guy to get in a few tee shots from the lunar surface. That’s funny right there, I don’t care who y’are.

Seen here pondering the effects of explosive decompression on a can of Silly String.

To honor Lt. Col. Alan Shepard and his contribution to our history and scientific achievement the United States Postal Service issued a stamp today in his honor. It is a “forever” stamp, known as such because it is accepted as first class postage for all time regardless of rate increases. A fitting gesture to a man whose bravery and good nature will endure for as long as we do as a nation.

I would encourage anyone reading this to learn more about Lt. Col. Shepard and his exploits by visiting his Wikipedia article here or researching him by your own methods. He is a fascinating man cast of a mold long since discarded. His list of awards and accomplishments alone would make for a fine afternoon read.

by Revmacd

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