|Alan B. Shepard, Jr.|
November 18, 1923|
Derry, New Hampshire, U.S.
|Died||July 21, 1998
Pebble Beach, California, U.S.
|Alan Bartlett Shepard, Jr.|
|Naval aviator, test pilot|
|USNA, B.S. 1944
NWC, M.A. 1957
|Rank||Rear Admiral, USN|
Time in space
|9 days and 57 min|
|Selection||1959 NASA Group 1|
|Missions||MR-3, Apollo 14|
|Retirement||August 1, 1974|
Navy Distinguished Service Medal
Alan Bartlett "Al" Shepard, Jr. (November 18, 1923 – July 21, 1998), (RADM, USN), was an American naval officer and aviator, test pilot, flag officer, one of the original NASA Mercury Seven astronauts, and businessman, who in 1961 became the second person and the first American to travel into space. This Mercury flight was designed to enter space, but not to achieve orbit. Ten years later, at age 47 and the oldest astronaut in the program, Shepard commanded the Apollo 14 mission, piloting the lander to the most accurate landing of the Apollo missions. He became the fifth and oldest person to walk on the Moon, and the only astronaut of the Mercury Seven to walk on the Moon. During the mission, he hit two golf balls on the lunar surface.
These were his only two space flights, as his flight status was interrupted for five years (1964–69) during the Mercury and Gemini programs by Ménière's disease, an inner-ear disease that was surgically corrected before his Moon flight. Shepard served as Chief of the Astronaut Office from November 1963 – July 1969 (the approximate period of his grounding), and from June 1971 – August 1, 1974 (from his last flight to his retirement). He was promoted from Captain to Rear Admiral on August 25, 1971. He retired from the United States Navy and NASA in 1974.
After leaving NASA, he became a successful businessman. He died of leukemia on July 21, 1998, five weeks before the death of his wife of 53 years. They were survived by their three daughters.
Early life and education
Shepard was born on November 18, 1923, in Derry, New Hampshire, to parents Lieutenant Colonel Alan B. Shepard, Sr. (1891–1973) and Renza (née Emerson) Shepard (1900–1993). He attended primary and secondary schools in East Derry and Derry, including Pinkerton Academy. As a young boy, after helping to clean an aircraft hangar, he was given his first flying lesson by Arnold Sidney Butler, a local owner and operator of the Daniel Webster airport. He graduated from the Admiral Farragut Academy with the class of 1941.
|“||You know, being a test pilot isn't always the healthiest business in the world.||”|
—About his test pilot career.
Shepard began his naval career after graduation from the United States Naval Academy with a Bachelor of Science degree in Engineering in 1944, and served on the destroyer USS Cogswell while it was deployed in the Pacific Ocean during World War II. He subsequently entered flight training at NAS Corpus Christi, Texas, and NAS Pensacola, Florida, and received his Naval Aviator wings in 1947. He was assigned to Fighter Squadron 42 (VF-42) based at NAS Norfolk, Virginia, and NAS Jacksonville, Florida, and served several tours aboard aircraft carriers in the Mediterranean Sea with the squadron.
In 1950, he attended the United States Naval Test Pilot School at Naval Air Station Patuxent River, Maryland. After graduation, he participated in flight test work, which included high-altitude tests to obtain data on light at different altitudes and on a variety of air masses over the American continent; test and development experiments of the Navy's in-flight refueling system; carrier suitability trials of the F2H-3 Banshee; and Navy trials of the first angled carrier deck. He was subsequently assigned to Fighter Squadron 193 (VF-193) based at NAS Moffett Field, California, a night fighter unit flying Banshee jets. As operations officer of this squadron, he made two tours to the western Pacific on board the carrier USS Oriskany.
Shepard returned to Patuxent for a second tour of duty and engaged in flight testing the F3H Demon, F8U Crusader, F4D Skyray and F11F Tiger. He was also project test pilot on the F5D Skylancer, and his last five months at Patuxent were spent as an instructor in the Test Pilot School. He later attended the Naval War College at Newport, Rhode Island, and, upon graduating with a Master of Arts degree in 1957, was assigned to the staff of the Commander-in-Chief, Atlantic Fleet, as aircraft readiness officer.
He logged more than 8,000 hours flying time, 3,700 hours in jet aircraft.
In 1959, Shepard was one of 110 military test pilots selected by their commanding officers as candidates for the newly formed National Aeronautics and Space Administration's Project Mercury, the first U.S. manned space flight program. Following a gruelling series of physical and psychological tests, NASA selected Shepard to be one of the original group of seven Mercury astronauts.
In January 1961, Shepard was chosen for the first American manned mission into space. Although the flight was originally scheduled for October 1960, delays by unplanned preparatory work meant that this was postponed several times, initially to March 6, 1961, and finally to May 5. On April 12, 1961, Soviet cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin had become the first person in space and to orbit the Earth.
On May 5, 1961, Shepard piloted the Freedom 7 mission and became the second person, and the first American, to travel into space." He was launched by a Redstone rocket, and unlike Gagarin's 108-minute orbital flight, Shepard stayed on a ballistic trajectory—a 15-minute suborbital flight which carried him to an altitude of 116 statute miles (187 km) and to a splashdown point 302 statute miles (486 km) down the Atlantic Missile Range. Unlike Gagarin, whose flight was strictly automatic, Shepard had some control of Freedom 7, spacecraft attitude in particular. The launch was seen live on television by millions.
Shortly before the launch, Shepard said to himself: "Don't fuck up, Shepard ..."
According to Gene Kranz in his book, Failure Is Not an Option, "When reporters asked Shepard what he thought about as he sat atop the Redstone rocket, waiting for liftoff, he had replied, 'The fact that every part of this ship was built by the low bidder.'"
After a dramatic Atlantic Ocean recovery, Commander Shepard observed, "... 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." After his successful return, Shepard was celebrated as a national hero, honored with parades in Washington, New York and Los Angeles and received the NASA Distinguished Service Medal from President John F. Kennedy.
Later, he was scheduled to pilot the Mercury-Atlas 10 Freedom 7-II three-day extended duration mission in October 1963. The MA-10 mission was cancelled on June 13, 1963. After MR-3, Shepard served as capsule communicator (CAPCOM) for the flights of Grissom and Glenn. He was the back-up pilot for Gordon "Gordo" Cooper for the Mercury-Atlas 9 mission.
Gemini: Chief astronaut
After the Mercury-Atlas 10 mission was cancelled, Shepard was designated as the command pilot of the first manned Project Gemini mission. Thomas P. Stafford was chosen as his co-pilot. In early 1964, Shepard was diagnosed with Ménière's disease, a condition in which fluid pressure builds up in the inner ear. This syndrome causes the semicircular canals and motion detectors to become extremely sensitive, resulting in disorientation, dizziness, and nausea. The condition caused him to be removed from flight status for most of the 1960s (Gus Grissom and John Young were assigned to Gemini 3 instead).
Also in 1963, he was designated Chief of the Astronaut Office, with responsibility for monitoring the coordination, scheduling, and control of all activities involving NASA astronauts. This included monitoring the development and implementation of effective training programs to assure the flight readiness of personnel for crew assignments on manned space flights; furnishing pilot evaluations applicable to the design, construction, and operations of spacecraft systems and related equipment; and providing qualitative scientific and engineering observations to facilitate overall mission planning, formulation of feasible operational procedures, and selection and conduct of specific experiments for each flight.
During this period, his secretary had several head shot photographs taken of Shepard, posed with various expressions on his face. She would post these on the door to his private office, with a sign which said "Mood of the Day." Visitors could then look at the photo to decide whether it was a good time to talk to him.
Shepard was restored to full flight status in May 1969, following corrective surgery (using a newly developed method) for Ménière's disease. He was originally assigned to command Apollo 13, but as it was felt he needed more time to train, he and his crewmates (Lunar Module pilot Edgar Mitchell and Command Module pilot Stuart Roosa) swapped missions with the then crew of Apollo 14 (James Lovell, Ken Mattingly, and Fred Haise).
As the oldest astronaut in the program at age 47, Shepard made his second space flight as commander of Apollo 14 from January 31 – February 9, 1971, America's third successful lunar landing mission. Shepard piloted the Lunar Module Antares to the most accurate landing of the entire Apollo program. This was the first mission to successfully broadcast color television pictures from the surface of the Moon, using a vidicon tube camera. (The color camera on Apollo 12 provided a few brief moments of color telecasting before it was inadvertently pointed at the Sun, ending its usefulness.) While on the Moon, Shepard used a Wilson six-iron head attached to a lunar sample scoop handle to drive golf balls. Despite thick gloves and a stiff spacesuit which forced him to swing the club with one hand, Shepard struck two golf balls; driving the second, as he jokingly put it, "miles and miles and miles."
Following Apollo 14, Shepard returned to his position as Chief of the Astronaut Office in June 1971. He was appointed by President Richard Nixon in July 1971 as a delegate to the 26th United Nations General Assembly, serving from September to December 1971. He was promoted to Rear Admiral by Nixon that same year before retiring both from the Navy and NASA on August 1, 1974.
After Shepard left NASA, he served on the boards of many corporations. He also served as president of his umbrella company for several business enterprises, Seven Fourteen Enterprises, Inc. (named for his two flights, Freedom 7 and Apollo 14).
In 1984, he and the other surviving Mercury astronauts, along with Betty Grissom, the widow of astronaut Gus Grissom, founded the Mercury Seven Foundation to raise money for scholarships for science and engineering students in college. In 1995, the organization was renamed the Astronaut Scholarship Foundation. Shepard was elected president and chairman of the foundation, posts he held until October 1997, when he turned over both positions to former astronaut James Lovell.
In 1994, he published a book with two journalists, Jay Barbree and Howard Benedict, called Moon Shot: The Inside Story of America's Race to the Moon. Fellow Mercury astronaut Deke Slayton is also named as an author. The book generated some controversy for use of a staged photo purportedly showing Shepard hitting a golf ball on the Moon. The book was also turned into a TV miniseries in 1994.
Shepard died of leukemia near his home in Pebble Beach, California, on July 21, 1998, two years after being diagnosed with that disease. He was the second person to die who had walked on the Moon (Jim Irwin was the first in 1991). His wife of 53 years, Louise Brewer, died five weeks afterward. Both were cremated, and their ashes were scattered together by a Navy helicopter over Stillwater Cove, in front of their Pebble Beach home.
They had three daughters, Laura (born July 2, 1947), Juliana (born March 16, 1951), and Alice (born in 1951). Alice was Louise's niece, but raised as their own daughter. Shepard also had six grandchildren.
Awards and honors
During his life, Shepard was awarded the Congressional Space Medal of Honor (by President Jimmy Carter in 1978 for his pioneering Mercury flight); two NASA Distinguished Service Medals (1961 and 1971), the NASA Exceptional Achievement Medal, Navy Astronaut Wings, the Navy Distinguished Service Medal, and the Distinguished Flying Cross. He received the Langley Gold Medal (highest award of the Smithsonian Institution for Aeronautics and Astronautics) on May 5, 1964; the Lambert trophy[disambiguation needed]; the SETP Iven C. Kincheloe Award; the Cabot Award; the Collier Trophy; and the City of New York Gold Medal for 1971.
He was awarded an Honorary Master of Arts degree from Dartmouth College in 1962, an Honorary D.Sc. from Miami University in 1971, and an Honorary Doctorate of Humanities from Franklin Pierce College in 1972.
In Hampton, Virginia, a road is named Commander Shepard Boulevard in his honor.
Interstate 93 in New Hampshire, from the Massachusetts border to its intersection with the F.E. Everett Turnpike (which is also the northern terminus of Interstate 293) in Hooksett, is named in his honor. It passes through his native Derry (however with no junctions) for a short distance before entering Londonderry to the north and Windham to the south. Additionally, Interstate 565 in northern Alabama connecting Decatur and Huntsville is officially the Admiral Alan B. Shepard Highway.
His hometown of Derry has the nickname Space Town in honor of his career as an astronaut. Following an act of Congress, the post office in Derry is designated the Alan B. Shepard, Jr. Post Office Building.
His high school alma mater in Derry, Pinkerton Academy, has a building named after him; and the school team name is the Astros after his career as an astronaut. Alan B. Shepard High School, in Palos Heights, Illinois, which opened in 1976, was named in his honor. Framed newspapers throughout the school depict various accomplishments and milestones in Shepard's life. Additionally, an autographed plaque commemorates the dedication of the building. The school newspaper is named Freedom 7 and the yearbook is entitled Odyssey. Its television news show is called NASA – News About Shepard Astros.
Other schools that honor his memory include Alan B. Shepard Middle School, Deerfield, Illinois; Alan B. Shepard Middle School, San Antonio, Texas; Alan B. Shepard Elementary School, Bourbonnais, Illinois, Alan B. Shepard Elementary School, Old Bridge, New Jersey, Alan B. Shepard Elementary Long Grove, Iowa, and formerly, Alan B. Shepard Elementary School in Highland Park, Illinois (closed).
In 2011, NASA honored Shepard with an Ambassador of Exploration Award, consisting of a Moon rock encased in Lucite, for his contributions to the U.S. space program. His family members accepted the award on his behalf during a ceremony on April 28 at the U.S. Naval Academy Museum in Annapolis, Maryland, where it is on permanent display.
On May 4, 2011, the U.S. Postal Service issued a first-class stamp in Shepard's honor, the first U.S. stamp to depict a specific astronaut. The first day of issue ceremony was held at NASA's Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex.
Shepard Technology Award
Each year, the Space Foundation, in partnership with the Astronauts Memorial Foundation and NASA, present the Alan Shepard Technology in Education Award for outstanding contributions by K–12 educators or district-level administrators to educational technology. The award recognizes excellence in the development and application of technology in the classroom or to the professional development of teachers. The recipient demonstrates exemplary use of technology either to foster lifelong learners or to make the learning process easier.
- 1965 – The character of Alan Tracy in the Thunderbirds was named after him.
- 1983 film The Right Stuff – played by Scott Glenn
- 1998 HBO miniseries From the Earth to the Moon – played by Ted Levine
- 2001 opening montage, Star Trek: Enterprise
- 2002 film Race to Space, played by Mark Moses
- 2004 – He is briefly mentioned in Metal Gear Solid 3 when he is said to be piloting a Lockheed M-21 in game.
- 2005 BBC TV series Space Race – played by Todd Boyce
- 2007 – The player character in BioWare's sci-fi video game series Mass Effect is surnamed "Shepard" in his honor.
- 2011 – Alternative music band They Might Be Giants briefly referred to him in the song "Can't Keep Johnny Down" from their album Join Us, in the following lyric: "Some dude/Hitting golf balls on the moon/Bathroom in his pants/And he thinks he's better than me ..."
- Weight: 170 lb (77 kg)
- Height: 5 ft 11 in (1.80 m)
- Hair: Brown
- Eyes: Blue
- Shepard, Alan B.; Slayton, Donald K.; Barbree, Jay; Benedict, Howard (1994). Moon Shot: The Inside Story of America's Race to the Moon. Introduction by Neil Armstrong (1st ed.). Atlanta: Turner Publishing Company. ISBN 1-878685-54-6. LCCN 94003027. OCLC 29846731.
- "Astronaut Bio: Alan B. Shepard, Jr. 7/98". NASA. September 1998. Retrieved August 15, 2013.
- "Alan Shepard Becomes Admiral". The Blade (Toledo, OH: Block Communications). Associated Press. August 26, 1971. p. 12. Retrieved August 15, 2013.
- Al Shepard's parents
- Alan B. Shepard, Jr. at scouting.org
- "Mayflower-L archives". RootsWeb.com. Ancestry.com. Retrieved February 10, 2011. Email from Susan E. Roser. Subject: Fw: [MFLR] Alan B. Shepard Jr. - Warren Descendant. Date: Sat, 23 Feb 2002 09:36:09 -0500.
- Alan Shepard at New Mexico Museum of Space History
- Swenson et al. 1989
- Swenson et al. 1989, Chapter 11.4: "Shepard's Ride"
- Shepard & Slayton 1994, p. 111
- Kranz 2000
- "Events of 1961: U.S. in Space". UPI.com. United Press International. 1961. Retrieved April 18, 2011.
- As World Watched. Spaceman Hailed After U.S. Triumph, 1961/05/08 (1961) (Motion picture). Universal-International Newsreel. 1961. OCLC 709678549. Retrieved February 20, 2012.
- "Apollo 14". Apollo to the Moon. Washington, D.C.: National Air and Space Museum. July 1999. Retrieved August 15, 2013.
- Jones, Eric M., ed. (1995). "EVA-2 Closeout and the Golf Shots". Apollo 14 Lunar Surface Journal. NASA. Archived from the original on May 24, 2011. Retrieved May 29, 2011.
- "Alan B. Shepard, Jr.". astronautscholarship.org. Astronaut Scholarship Foundation. Retrieved August 15, 2013. Shepard biography on the official website of the Mercury 7 astronauts, United States Astronaut Hall of Fame.
- Founding of the Astronaut Scholarship Foundation
- Shepard & Slayton 1994
- Drew, Mike (July 11, 1994). "TBS' 'Moon Shot' Rises Above Other TV Fare". Milwaukee Journal (Journal Communications). Retrieved August 15, 2013.
- Stillwater Cove, Del Monte Forest, California
- Thompson 2004
- Al Shepard's awards and honors .history.nasa.gov
- "National Aviation Hall of fame: Our Enshrinees". National Aviation Hall of Fame. Retrieved February 10, 2011.
- Alan Shepard inducted into the U.S. Astronaut Hall of Fame
- Goldfarb, Greg (October 14, 1994). "Dome's memory will linger as a monument several activities are planned to honor the beach's now-razed former civic center". The Virginian-Pilot (Norfolk, VA: Landmark Communications, Inc.). p. 4. Archived from the original on March 19, 2008. Retrieved August 15, 2013.
- "Derry, NH". NewHampshire.com. Union Leader Corp. Archived from the original on August 30, 2010. Retrieved August 24, 2010.
- "H.R.4517". Library of Congress. Retrieved May 29, 2007.
- Gray, Tara. "Alan B. Shepard, Jr.". 40th Anniversary of the Mercury 7. NASA History Program Office. Archived from the original on December 8, 2006. Retrieved December 29, 2006.
- "Cocoa Beach Review". Fodor's. Retrieved August 15, 2013.
- "Space Foundation Survey Reveals Broad Range of Space Heroes; Early Astronauts Still the Most Inspirational" (Press release). Colorado Springs, CO: Space Foundation. October 27, 2010. Retrieved August 15, 2013.
- Mirelson, Doc (April 19, 2011). "NASA Honors Pioneer Astronaut Alan Shepard With Moon Rock" (Press release). Washington, D.C.: NASA. Media Advisory: M11-077. Retrieved August 15, 2013.
- Pearlman, Robert Z. (May 4, 2011). "New U.S. Stamps Honor Astronaut Alan Shepard and Mission to Mercury". Space.com (Ogden, UT: TechMedia Network). Retrieved August 15, 2013.
- Marriott 1992, p. 23
- Kranz, Gene (2000). Failure Is Not an Option: Mission Control from Mercury to Apollo 13 and Beyond. New York: Simon & Schuster. ISBN 0-7432-0079-9. LCCN 00027720. OCLC 43590801.
- Marriott, John (1992). Thunderbirds Are Go!. Foreword by Gerry Anderson. London: Boxtree. ISBN 1-85283-164-2. OCLC 27642248.
- Swenson, Loyd S., Jr.; Grimwood, James M.; Alexander, Charles C. (1989) [Originally published 1966]. This New Ocean: A History of Project Mercury. The NASA History Series. Washington, D.C.: NASA. OCLC 569889. NASA SP-4201. Retrieved June 28, 2007.
- Thompson, Neal (2004). Light This Candle: The Life & Times of Alan Shepard, America's First Spaceman (1st ed.). New York: Crown Publishers. ISBN 0-609-61001-5. LCCN 2003015688. OCLC 52631310.
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Alan Shepard.|
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- Official NASA biography for 40th Anniversary of Mercury 7
- Official NASA short biography
- "Alan B. Shepard Jr. Is Dead at 74; First American to Travel in Space" Obituary by John Noble Wilford, The New York Times, July 23, 1998
- Alan Shepard – The Daily Telegraph obituary, July 23, 1998
- Alan Shepard: 1st American in Space at the Wayback Machine (archived May 27, 2010) – slideshow by Life magazine
- Iven C. Kincheloe Awards
- Shepard at Spaceacts
- Alan Shepard at the Internet Movie Database
- Alan Shepard at the National Aviation Hall of Fame
- Shepard at International Space Hall of Fame
- Astronautix biography of Alan Shepard
- Spacefacts biography of Alan Shepard
- Alan Bartlett Shepard, Jr. at Find a Grave
(informally: Deke Slayton)
|Chief of the Astronaut Office
John W. Young