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U.S. Space and Rocket Center celebrates 60 years since country’s first manned space flight

The U.S. Space and Rocket Center celebrated the anniversary Wednesday.

Posted: May 5, 2021 6:59 PM
Updated: May 5, 2021 8:05 PM

Sixty years ago to the date, the Mercury Redstone Rocket took flight in the first manned space flight in the U.S.

On Wednesday, the U.S. Space and Rocket Center celebrated the anniversary.

The U.S. Space and Rocket Center The U.S. Space and Rocket Center

“We stand here today from that first mission's success and the confidence that it inspired in America’s space program," said Dr. Kimberly Robinson, the CEO of the U.S. Space and Rocket Center.

Bob Schmiedeskamp remembers the rocket launch like it was yesterday.

"It’s probably the most exciting day of my life, still," said Schmiedeskamp.

Schmiedeskamp was working at Cape Canaveral in 1961. Now, he volunteers his time at the U.S. Space and Rocket Center.

"I worked at a tracking station that tracked mostly NASA launches," said Schmiedeskamp. "I think everyone tracked this launch, it was so historic."

Schmiedeskamp said at the time, it was hard to believe a person was inside the rocket. He said it replicated test shots fired of mercury capsules on the Redstone.

"It was a long time ago, but it wasn’t a long time ago, and that’s what boggles my mind," said Schmiedeskamp.

The Mercury Redstone Rocket was built right here in Huntsville.

Jay Foster, a volunteer at the U.S. Space and Rocket Center, worked on manufacturing the Mercury Redstone Rocket in Huntsville.

"At the time that we were building it, we didn’t know that it would be for this," said Foster. "I headed a group of about 30 people and we received all the individual design drawings from the various design elements."

Dr. Von Braun gave him a replication of the model he worked on.

"Von Braun was downsizing a bit and he gave me his Redstone 7, and I’ve had it all these years," said Foster.

Since 1961, Huntsville has proved to be an important location in the exploration of space.

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