The Trajectory: Fifty years ago on May 5, 1961 only 23 day after Yuri Gagarin of the then-Soviet Union became the first person in space, NASA astronaut launched at 9:34 a.m. EDT aboard his Freedom 7 capsule powered by a Redstone booster to become the first American in space. His historic flight lasted 15 minutes, 28 seconds. Image Credit: NASA
Alan Bartlett Shepard, Jr. (November 18, 1923 – July 21, 1998) was an American naval aviator, test pilot, flag officer, and NASA astronaut who in 1961 became the second person, and the first American, in space. Ten years later, he commanded the Apollo 14 mission, and became the fifth person to walk on the Moon. He also served as chief of the Astronaut Office from November 1963–July 1969 and from June 1971–August 1, 1974. Shepard was promoted from captain to rear admiral (upper half) on December 1, 1971. He retired from the US Navy and NASA in 1974.