First American astronauts in space

October 31, 2022
In the 1960s, while Nasa s

Alan-shepard-1961Though his sub-orbital flight only lasted 15 minutes, it was a historical moment in the Space Race against the Soviet Union.

However, a little known fact about this flight is what took place before it. Shepard sat in the rocket for five hours because of delays, and the astronaut really had to use the restroom.

"Man, I got to pee, " Shepard said to launch control.

That really wasn't an option for Shepard, who was already strapped in tight and ready for launch. And NASA wasn't prepared either because officials figured the mission would be short enough to avoid a scenario like this. Shepard, who donned a shiny silver spacesuit and was covered in wired medical sensors, couldn't just pee on himself.

Alan_Shepard_First Image

However, NASA didn't have a choice — Shepard, who had been in the spacecraft for a total of eight hours, really had to go.

So, on that first flight to space, Shepard went into orbit wearing a wet spacesuit.

Mercury-Redstone rocket that transported Alan Shepard into space being launched on May 5, 1961.

Image: AP Photo/Associated Press

Astronaut Alan B. Shepard Jr., the first American to journey into space, peers into his Freedom 7 space capsule after it is recovered from the Atlantic Ocean and taken aboard the aircraft carrier USS Lake Champlain, May 5, 1961. The Freedom 7 (MR-7) spacecraft was launched by a Redstone vehicle at 9:34 a.m. EST. Shepard's flight, return from space, the splashdown at sea and recovery were seen on television by millions of viewers around the world.

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American Astronauts Ready For First Space Flight (1961)
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