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In this May 5, 1961 image released by NASA, the Freedom 7 manned by U.S. astrona

1st American in space honored on 50th anniversary

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CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. (AP) — Fifty years to the moment Alan Shepard rocketed away, more than 100 Project Mercury workers joined former astronauts and NASA leaders at the original Redstone launch pad Thursday to celebrate the event that opened space travel to Americans.


Shepard became the first American in space on May 5, 1961, soaring 116 miles high in his Freedom 7 capsule.

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