Mercury Space Program HISTORY

Mercury Manned Flights

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Faith 7 Liftoff

Gordon Cooper

NASA Photos

The spacecraft, named Faith 7, completed 22 Earth orbits before splashing down in the Pacific Ocean, piloted by astronaut Gordon Cooper, then an Air Force major.

NASA Photo: Gordon Cooper enters his Faith 7 capsule


Faith 7 was the final Mercury Mission. At 8:04:13 a.m. EST, May 15, 1963 Faith 7 was launched from Launch Complex 14 with Gordon Cooper sitting atop the Mercury Atlas 9.

As the mission progressed several malfunctions began to occur inside the spacecraft. On the 20th orbit, Cooper lost all altitude readings and on the 21st a short-circuit occured that left the automatic stabilization and control system without power. With the automatic re-entry system out of order, John Glenn radioed Cooper and helped prepare a revised checklist for retrofire. Due to the system malfunctions, many of the steps would have to be done manually. Only Hawaii and Zanzibar were in radio range on this last orbit, but communications were good. Cooper noted that the carbon dioxide level was rising in the cabin and in his spacesuit. He told Carpenter as he passed over Zanzibar, "Things are beginning to stack up a little." Throughout the problems, Cooper remained cool, calm and collected.

Faith 7 Landing

Despite the technical difficulties encountered during the re-entry, Faith 7 landed just 4 miles from the recovery ship, USS Kearsarge in the Pacific. Splashdown was at 34 hours 19 minutes 49 seconds after liftoff.

Faith 7 Recovery

Gordon Cooper Exiting Capsule

The Faith 7 spacecraft is currently displayed at the Houston Space Center in Texas.