The Space Race and the ultimate United States' victory in reaching the Moon began with a bell-shaped spacecraft built for just one human. The second manned spacecraft launched by the U.S. was Liberty Bell 7, on display now at the Cosmosphere.
On July 21, 2021, we celebrate the 60th Anniversary of Liberty Bell 7’s launch. Learn more about the dramatic story of the capsule’s life-threatening splash-down and dramatic recovery below.
The flight was by-the-book until splashdown when the explosive-powered hatch jettisoned prematurely, flooding the capsule and Grissom’s space suit. Grissom scrambled out of the spacecraft and nearly drowned in the swells.
With the spacecraft full of water, the weight was too much for the recovery helicopter. Liberty Bell 7 was released and the spacecraft sank nearly three miles to the bottom of the Atlantic.
Credit: NASA and lunarmodule5
Credit: CBS and zellco321
Discovery Channel, Credit: Graham Bagshaw
As part of the Mercury Program, Mercury-Redstone 4 was the fourth mission in the Mercury-Redstone series of flight tests and the second U.S. manned suborbital spaceflight. It was the next step in the progressive research, development and training program leading to the study of man's capabilities in a space environment during manned orbital flight.
The main objective was to corroborate the man-in-space concept. The main configuration differences between the MR-3 spacecraft was the addition of a large viewing window and an explosively actuated side hatch.
Listen to the story of the Liberty Bell 7 spacecraft.
Just remember, nothing is a substitute for the chance to experience this great piece of space history in person! Liberty Bell 7 will be on display in the Cosmosphere's Grand Lobby through summer 2021.
They say a photo is worth a thousand words. More than that, images take us back in time to evoke the emotions of the moment.
Cosmosphere has curated hundreds of photos of the Liberty Bell 7 mission.
Visit our image library to:
Credit: NASA and Cosmosphere
Prepare for your next Liberty Bell 7 Trivia Night, or just expand your understanding of facts about Gus Grissom and the LB7 spacecraft!
Join us in celebrating the 60th anniversary of the Liberty Bell 7 mission – at the Cosmosphere, home and proud owner of the famous spacecraft!
Don’t miss these and other Liberty Bell 7 artifacts in the Hall of Space Museum. Come on in and try finding them all!
On July 20, 1999, nearly 38 years after it was lost to the depths of the Atlantic Ocean, a deep sea salvage expedition funded by the Discovery Channel, resurrected Liberty Bell 7 from its watery grave. It was then brought to the Cosmosphere in Hutchinson, Kansas, for restoration by SpaceWorks, a division of the Cosmosphere internationally known for spacecraft restoration and preservation, as well as replica fabrication.
Find out more about SpaceWorks here.
The Cosmosphere is a Smithsonian-affiliated museum in Hutchinson, KS and the proud home and owner of the Liberty Bell 7 spacecraft. The craft will be on display in the Cosmosphere's Grand Lobby through the summer of 2021.