Shepard, Alan Bartlett, Jr., 1923–98, American astronaut, b. East Derry, N.H., grad. Annapolis, 1944. He served on a destroyer during World War II and later had extensive experience as a test pilot. On May 5, 1961, under the U.S. space program Project Mercury, he became the first American to be launched into space. His flight was a suborbital trip of 302 mi (486 km) down the Atlantic missile range. He reached a height of 115 mi (185 km) and performed several maneuvers of his capsule, Freedom 7, during the 15-min flight. In 1971 he commanded the Apollo 14 lunar landing and became the fifth person to walk on the moon. Shepard retired from both NASA and the U.S. navy (as a rear admiral) in 1975 to enter private industry. With Deke Slayton, another original Mercury astronaut, he wrote Moon Shot: The Inside Story of America's Race to the Moon (1994).
See biography by N. Thompson (2004).
The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.