Sunday marks the 52nd anniversary of the first American in space. On May 5th, 1961, Alan Shepard Jr. became the first NASA astronaut to be launched into outer space aboard the Freedom 7 spacecraft.
Launched from Cape Canaveral, Fla., Shepard was rocketed to an altitude of 116.5 miles. Shepard tested out altitude controls for five minutes and then parachuted to safety into the Atlantic Ocean. The entire trip lasted 15 minutes and 28 seconds, but gave the space program the confidence that they could continue to advance further missions and orbits.
You can share this special anniversary with your kids by visiting NASA’s Space Place, where they can learn about Alan Shepard, astronauts, outer space and more.
Learn more about Alan Shepard Jr. and the Freedom 7.
Image description: The Capitol and Library of Congress Jefferson Building on April 11, 1895 (above) and April 11, 2013 (below).
Photo by the Architect of the Capitol
Alexander Graham Bell is most famous for inventing the telephone. Even though his invention allowed us to hear each other’s voices, no one has heard his voice until now.
The Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History, through a collaborative project with the Library of Congress and Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, has identified Bell’s voice for the first time.
The museum has a collection of the earliest sound recordings ever made from Bell’s Volta laboratory. In the collection was a loose piece of paper with a transcript of a recording. The transcript was signed and dated by Bell and ending with “in witness whereof, hear my voice, Alexander Graham Bell.” This transcript was matched with a recently identified wax-on-binder-board disc that carries the initials “AGB” and the same date—April 15, 1885. The sound was recovered from the disc and matched to the transcript.
Learn more about how the Smithsonian found Bell’s voice.