Space Rocket History Archive

Space Rocket History #27 – Mercury-Redstone 4 – Liberty Bell 7 with Gus Grissom

November 25, 2017

Mercury-Redstone 4 was the fourth mission in the Mercury-Redstone series and the second U.S. manned suborbital spaceflight. The mission was essentially a repeat of Alan Shepard’s Freedom 7 flight.   So why was it necessary to launch another sub-orbital mission?  Why not proceed with an orbital flight to match the Soviet Vostok 1?  Among other things the U.S. needed more space experience to corroborate the “Man-in-Space” concept.  Also the Redstone was the only booster NASA had that was approved for manned launches.  The Atlas booster was available but not ready.  Atlas was capable of putting a Mercury Capsule into orbit, but it had been launched three times with unmanned capsules, and it had exploded on 2 of the 3 attempts.