On this date in history in 1961, astronaut Alan Shepard became the first American in space.
Shepard made a 15-minute flight in the "freedom seven" capsule launched from Cape Canaveral.
The sub-orbital flight reached a height of 116 miles into the atmosphere, marking a major triumph for NASA.
NASA was established in 1958 shortly after the soviets launched the sputnik satellite a year earlier.
The soviets were the first into space, but the Americans were the first to land on the moon.