50 years ago today, Alan Shepard journeyed into the Final Frontier and became the first American in space, following USSR cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin by a period of weeks.

Here is a look at some of details from that period and, when you are done, you can see our interview with Arthur Cohen, one of the lead engineers for the Mercury Program from 1959-1963.

project mercury ballistic capsule

Mercury 7 astronauts gus grissom scott carpenter alan shepard deke slayton wally schirra john glenn gordo cooper

Alan Shepard's Freedom 7 manned space flight details

Rocket: Redstone, MR-7
Spacecraft No. 7
Launch: 05/05/1961, 9:34:00 a.m. EST
Landing: 05/05/1961, 9:49:28 a.m. EST
Duration: 15 min, 28 sec
Altitude: 116.5 statute miles
Distance: 303 statute miles
Velocity: 5,134 mph
Max G: 11
Recovery ship: Lake Champlain