Born just 20 years after the Wright Brothers’ first flight, Alan Shepard grew up to fly combat missions in World War II, test several new aircraft, become the first American in space, and eventually fire the first shot of golf on the Moon. Born on November 18, 1923, Shepard took off in the Freedom 7 spacecraft from Cape Canaveral, Florida, on May 5, 1961, beginning 62 years of American travel to space. During the 15-minute suborbital flight, Shepard reached an altitude of 115 miles and traveled 302 miles. Grounded soon afterward by an inner ear disorder, Shepard served as chief of the astronaut office at NASA’s Johnson Space Center. Corrective surgery returned him to flying status and, in 1971, he commanded Apollo 14the third moon landing mission.
Image credit: NASA