Monday, February 21, 2011

50 YA - Atlas Tests

MA-2 Atlas test.

In February 1961 the race to put a man in space was definitely ON.

On February 24, NASA launched a test of the Atlas rocket carrying an unmanned Mercury Capsule. Actually I have found references that describe the test as having taken place on February 21, 22 and 24th. At this point I'm not really sure which day it was launched!

Color photo of launch.

The Atlas lifted off from Launch Complex 14 at 2:10pm. The main objectives of the test were to verify that the capsule could withstand the tremendous g-forces of a steep re-entry, and that the rocket could place the capsule where directed. The mission was a success, placing the capsule in a suborbital arc that lasted about 18 minutes. The capsule reached an altitude of 114 miles.

Cool fact: The capsule, designated Mercury # 6, is on display at the Houston Museum of Natural Science.

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