May 5, 1961, Commander Alan Shepard America’s First Spaceman

May 5, 1961—I’m a freshman in high school. It’s 10:34 AM. We were all standing huddled around a small TV in the classroom. Many of the teachers brought in TVs’ that day to witness and historical moment. We watched in silence as Navy Commander Alan Shepard lifted off. Next, you could hear the excitement of that moment in the school building.

The New York Times May 6, 1961 America’s First Manned Space flight
New York Time May 6, 1961—Pictures From May 5, 1961

October 4, 1957, is when the Space age began with Sputnik 1 by the USSR. This event led to the Space Race.

I was already an avid reader of science fiction; I started reading all the articles in the newspapers on Space.

Then in 1959, America and the world were introduced to seven astronauts. There was soon a flood of books to choose from about them, and I read as many as possible.

The New York Times—Time Machine news clips and timely placed advertising reflected what we woke up to on May 6, 1961.

The New York Times May 6, 1961 Ads

I never lost my affection for science fiction or interest in Space.

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