US first space jump

    It’s good when a historical event is equipped with cameras from different angles, so that later you can see how what happened. Even better, when the event is not very long so that the chronicle does not become boring. According to these two parameters, the first American space flight on May 5, 1961 turns out to be more visual than Gagarin's flight - there were two cameras on the Mercury-Redstone 3, one of which shot an astronaut, and the second a dashboard. And the fact that the flight was suborbital meant that it would last only fifteen minutes, in contrast to Gagarin’s relatively long orbital flight for 108 minutes. Space enthusiasts have even made several videos with the reconstruction of this flight. And to the one that I liked more, I added Russian subtitles.

    A bit about the Mercury program

    The Mercury program is the first manned space flight program in the United States. Her tasks were the creation of a manned spacecraft and the study of the possibility for a person to be in space. According to the Mercury program, six manned flights were completed - two suborbital and four orbital. The first suborbital flights were to some extent a necessary measure - the USA was slowly developing the Atlas ICBM , which was supposed to put the ship into a “full” orbit. Therefore, I had to improvise - to take a less powerful, but mastered BRDS"Redstone" and instead of orbital flights to make "jumps" into space. In principle, a suborbital flight made it possible to feel weightlessness ten times longer than on an airplane (5 minutes versus 30 seconds) to “get to know” it, and there were even plans to introduce each astronaut to weightlessness in a suborbital flight before an orbital flight. But the space race confused all plans - the success of Gagarin’s flight dramatically reduced the value of suborbital flights.

    Mercury-Redstone 3 Flight

    The Mercury-Redstone 3 mission is the first manned suborbital space flight in the United States and the world's first suborbital manned space flight. It took place on May 5, 1961 and lasted only 15 minutes. Pilot - Alan Shepard.


    Left - top view, right - bottom view, the released periscope is visible

    The ship "Mercury" - single, made according to the scheme of a truncated cone. In the narrow part of the ship were parachutes (brake, main and backup), horizon sensors, emergency hatch. In the central part of the ship was an astronaut, instruments and tanks of consumables - hydrogen peroxide for the orientation system, helium for boost, oxygen for breathing. Outside the wide side of the ship was an air landing shock absorber, a heat shield (beryllium for suborbital flights and fiberglass for orbital flights), and a bunch of resettable brake engines. The ship had a length of 3.3 m, diameter 1.8 m, weight up to 1400 kg. The insufficient carrying capacity of American missiles led to the fact that the "Mercury" was very small and cramped, the internal volume was only 1.7 m ^ 3, and astronauts said that they did not "sit" in the capsule,

    Launch vehicle

    The Redstone launch vehicle, the full name Mercury-Redstone Launch Vehicle, is the modified PGM-11 Redstone for manned flight, a direct descendant of the V-2, developed by Werner von Braun. In the combat version, the rocket carried a thermonuclear warhead, space versions were used to launch the first US satellite and other space programs. Starting weight up to 30 tons, diameter 1.78 m, length 25.4 m.


    Alan Bartlett Shepard Jr., born November 18, 1923, died July 21, 1998. He graduated from the Naval Academy in Annapolis and served on a destroyer during the Second World War. After the war, he became a pilot, became a test pilot and in 1959 he became one of the seven astronauts of the United States of the first set. Height 180 cm, weight 77 kg.

    Mission progress

    The launch was originally scheduled for May 2. Shepard and his understudies Grissom and Glenn woke up at one in the morning, had breakfast and waited for the team to leave for the start. But due to weather conditions, the start was canceled. The second attempt was made on May 5. Shepard took a seat on the ship two hours before launch, at 5:15 AM ET. At 7 a.m., the start was postponed for an hour due to cloud cover - clouds interfered with rocket observations, and a clear sky was necessary for observations of the Earth's surface. Then the inverter overheated, and had to vent excess pressure in the oxygen tank. The start was delayed for two hours. There was a problem that neither engineers nor doctors thought about - for a flight that was supposed to last only fifteen minutes, no one thought about the sanitary and hygienic needs of the astronaut. Simply put, there was no urinal in the suit. Four-plus hours of waiting in a rocket, not counting the time for a trip and so on, led to the fact that the first American astronaut had to empty the bladder into a spacesuit with the risk of a short circuit. But nothing bad happened. Shepard with humor reacted to the situation, calling himself"Wet back" and called on the MCC "to solve their problems and finally light this candle." As a result, the start took place at 9:34 ET. The live start was watched by 45 to 70 million people, in other words, the whole of America. In schools, classes were stopped, institutions stopped working, even traffic stopped - everyone watched the jump into space.

    Time (MM: SS)EventDescription
    00:00StartStart, ship clock launch.
    00:16Pitch programThe booster rocket reduces pitch from 90 to 45 degrees at a speed of 2 g / s.
    00:40End of pitch programThe booster reaches a pitch angle of 45 degrees.
    01:24Max qMaximum pressure head (28 kPa).
    02:20BecoTurning off the engine (Booster Engine CutOff), speed 2.3 km / s.
    02:22Reset remote control CACThe tower of the emergency rescue system is reset.
    02:24BranchSeparation engines add 4.6 m / s.
    02:35U-turn The autopilot turns the ship aft and sets a pitch angle of -34 degrees (nose down).
    05:00ApogeeApogee, altitude 185 km, distance from the start of 240 km.
    05:15BrakingThree solid fuel brake engines operate for 10 seconds each. The interval between starts is 5 seconds, their work is superimposed on each other. Speed ​​decreases by 155-170 m / s
    05:45Periscope cleaningThe periscope is automatically retracted in preparation for entering the dense atmosphere
    06:15Reset TDUA minute after braking, the brake motors are reset so as not to block the heat shield.
    06:20Brake orientationThe autopilot orientates the ship toward entering the dense atmosphere with the stern back, bow up.
    07:150.05 g (0.5 m / s²)An autopilot captures the beginning of the atmosphere and spins the ship to stabilize.
    09:38Brake parachuteA brake parachute is opened, the height is 6.7 km, the speed slows down to 111 m / s.
    09:45Breathing valveThe valve for ventilation with outside air opens, a height of 6.1 km. The life support system includes emergency ventilation to cool the cab.
    10:15Main parachuteThe main parachute opens, the height is 3 km, the speed of decline drops to 9.1 m / s.
    10:20Landing shock absorberA 1.2 m high shock absorber is revealed
    10:20Fuel dischargeThe remaining fuel of the orientation system is automatically bleed.
    15:30SplashdownThe ship is splashed at a distance of approximately 480 km from the launch.
    15:30Disclosure of the rescue systemA search and rescue system is revealed - a green dye in water, an antenna and a radio beacon.

    The flight plan was scheduled literally in seconds, and it had the following experiments:
    1. Manual orientation. Shepard checked the possibility and convenience of orientation on three axes - pitch, roll and yaw.
    2. Earth surface observation. Through the periscope, Shepard observed the Earth and reported that the Earth is visible well, large lakes, islands and other elements of the landscape can be recognized.
    3. Rocket observations. The rocket was not supposed to be far away, but, nevertheless, Shepard did not see her. However, Mercury had a very poor view, so this did not surprise anyone.
    4. Observations of the stars. Shepard was to observe the stars / planets in the viewing porthole. Unfortunately, due to the strong background light, he did not see anything. Attempts to see the stars made him somewhat out of the schedule, and for the first time, according to his own memories, became nervous.

    1. During the flight, there was only one noticeable malfunction - the TDU reset sensor failed. On the dashboard, it was possible to reset the operation - by pressing a button to inform the system that the operation had taken place, which Shepard used.
    2. Woolf’s book “The Right Stuff” states that Shepard forgot to remove the brightness-reducing filter from the periscope before starting, and did not dare to remove it later, so he saw a black-and-white slightly contrast picture in the periscope and didn’t quite sincerely say to TsUPU “What a beautiful view ". But I did not find confirmation of this information from other sources, the reliability of this is unknown.

    Video Reconstruction

    The YouTube video uses the following sources:
    1. Ground camera, takes off the launch of a rocket.
    2. Camera shooting an astronaut.
    3. Camera removing dashboard.
    4. Reconstruction of the flight in Orbiter.

    I repeatedly turned to the author of the video with a request to add the subtitles I made to his video. For an unknown reason, he didn’t answer me at all, so I didn’t have to do it very nicely - copy the video and add Russian subtitles. The link to the source video is on the YouTube video page, there are built-in English subtitles, if anyone is interested. I recommend opening the video in a separate tab and expanding it to full screen.

    There is another author’s video , but there are fewer sources.
    If you liked the idea of ​​such a reconstruction, I recommend paying attention to such a reconstruction of Gagarin’s flight .

    Sources of information

    In addition to Wikipedia, the following sources were used:
    “World manned space flight. History. Equipment. People ", ed. Yu.M. Baturina, M .: “RTSoft”, 2005
    Tom Wolfe “The Right Stuff”.
    Data about Shepard on the NASA website - height and weight from there.

    Also popular now: