The first photograph shows the successful launch of the Mercury Redstone 4 rocket carrying Gus Grissom on the Nation’s second manned spaceflight on July 21, 1961, 7:20 a.m. EST from Cape Canaveral’s Launch Complex 5. The launch was originally scheduled for July 18, 1961 but was rescheduled to July 19, 1961 because of unfavorable weather conditions. The launch attempt on July 19, 1961 was canceled at T-10 minutes as a result of continued unfavorable weather. The launch was then rescheduled for July 21, 1961.
The second photograph shows the unsuccessful helicopter recovery of the Liberty 7 spacecraft after the second US spaceman effort. The USS Randolph lies in the background waiting for the arrival of the astronaut. The Marine helicopter appears to have Liberty 7 in tow after Virgil Grissom’s successful flight of 305 miles down the Atlantic Missile Range. But minutes after “Gus” Grissom got out of the spacecraft it sank.
From lift-off to re-entry, operational sequences were similar to those of the first manned suborbital flight and Grissom’s flight experience was similar to Shepard’s in that there was a five minute period of weightlessness. The main configuration differences from the MR-3 spacecraft was the addition of a large viewing window and an explosively actuated side hatch. During the flight, the spacecraft attained a maximum velocity of 8,270 km/hour and an altitude of 189 km. The duration of flight was 15 minutes and 37 seconds. Read more about Mercury Redstone 4 in the NASA archives.
However the spacecraft was lost “during the post landing recovery period as a result of premature actuation of the explosively actuated side egress hatch. The capsule sank in 15,000 feet of water shortly after splashdown. The astronaut egressed from the spacecraft immediately after hatch actuation and was retrieved after being in the water for about 3 to 4 minutes.” Read more about about the Liberty Bell Misson in NASA's Misson Archives.
As a result, no photographs of the flight survived.
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© All texts by Victor Martin-Malburet