The Story of the Redstone Rocket
The Space Review Download time: May 3 2011 7:29 AM ET
Fifty years ago this week, a modified Redstone missile topped with a Mercury capsule called Freedom 7 launched the first American, Alan Shepard, into space. While Freedom 7 did not enter orbit like Yuri Gagarin had done on the first Vostok flight the previous month, it was this country's first tentative step into the arena of manned spaceflight.
By this point in time, the Redstone missile was well known to the American public. In addition to being the launch vehicle for the first Mercury suborbital test flights, it also served as the launch vehicle for America's first Explorer satellites only three years earlier. Outside of the limelight of Space Age achievements, the Redstone also served as a powerful weapon on the frontlines of the Cold War.…