Inevitably, there are times in a nation's history when its hopes, fears and confidence in its own destiny appear to hinge on the fate of a single person. One of these pivotal moments occurred on the early morning of May 5, 1961, when a 37-year-old test pilot squeezed himself into the confines of the tiny Mercury spacecraft that he had named Freedom 7 . On that historic day, U.S. Navy Commander Alan Shepard carried with him the hopes, prayers, and anxieties of a nation as his Redstone rocket blasted free of the launch pad at Cape Canaveral, hurling him upwards on a 15-minute suborbital ight that also propelled the United States into the bold new frontier of human space exploration. This book tells the enthralling story of that pioeering ight as recalled by many of the participants in the Freedom 7 story, including Shepard himself, with anecdotal details and tales never before revealed in print. Although beaten into space just three weeks earlier by the Soviet cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin, Alan Shepard's history-making mission aboard Freedom 7 nevertheless provided America's first tentative step into space that would one day see its Apollo astronauts - including Alan Shepard - walk on the Moon. Colin Burgess's first book, 'The Diggers of Colditz' was published simultaneously in the U.K. and Australia in 1985. His next few books were on the Australian prisoner-of-war experience and then he turned his efforts to writing about his principal interest: human space exploration. Burgess has written a number of books on the subject for the University of Nebraska Press and Springer-Praxis. The books he has written or co-authored for Springer-Praxis are 'NASA's Scientist-Astronauts,''Animals in Space,''The First Soviet Cosmonaut Team,' and 'Selecting the Mercury Seven.' Recently finished the copyediting/typesetting process is his latest book for Springer-Praxis, 'Moon Bound: Choosing and Preparing NASA's Lunar Astronauts.' In the interim he has also worked as series editor and sometimes author for the Outward Odyssey set of 12 books on the social history of space exploration for the University of Nebraska Press.
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