Alan Shepard Fact File Biography: Lifespan: 1923 - 1998 *** Full Name: Alan Bartlett ďAlĒ Shepard, Jr. *** Nickname: Al *** Occupation: American Naval Officer, Aviator, Test Pilot, Flag Officer and NASA Mercury Seven Astronaut *** Date of Birth: Alan Shepard was born on November 18th 1923 *** Place of Birth: Alan Shepard was born in Derry, New Hampshire, U.S. *** Family background: His father was Lieutenant Colonel Alan B. Shepard, Sr and his mother was Renza Emerson. He could also trace his family back to a passenger on the Mayflower *** Early life and childhood: He grew up in Derry and earned the rank of First Class in the Boy Scouts of America *** Education: Alan Shepard attended primary and secondary schools in East Derry, Derry and Pinkerton Academy as well as graduating from Admiral Farragut Academy ***
Alan Shepard Fact 1: Alan Shepard was born on November 18th 1923 and during the 20th century period in history when such things as cultural homogenization through development in transportation and communications technology as well as world population growth are all major issues in this century.
Alan Shepard Fact 2: He earned his first flying lesson after cleaning out a large aircraft carrier as a young boy. The local owner, Arnold Sidney Butler was the operator of the Daniel Webster airport and gave him his first trip in a plane.
Alan Shepard Fact 3: Having graduated from school he began his Naval service in the United States Naval Academy in 1944 with a Bachelor of Science Degree. His first deployment was on the USS Cogswell in the Pacific Ocean during World War II.
Alan Shepard Fact 4: He saw active duty in the Third Fleet raids on Japan as well as the Caroline Island, Leyte Gulf, Luzon and Okinawa.
Alan Shepard Fact 5: Next he decided to enter flight training at NAS Corpus Christie in Texas and also in Pensacola in Florida.
Alan Shepard Fact 6: While training with the navy he was also training privately and earned his civilian pilots license before qualifying for his Naval Aviator wings.
Alan Shepard Fact 7: His first posting was to Fighter Squadron 42 based at NAS Norfolk in Virginia.
Alan Shepard Fact 8: By 1950 he was attending the U.S. Naval Test Pilot School. He would become involved in the testing at high altitude as well as the testing and development of experiments in the Navyís in-flight refueling system as well as trials of the first angled carrier deck.
Alan Shepard Fact 9: His final months at the Test Pilot School would be spent as an instructor himself before moving on to join NASA.
Alan Shepard Fact 10: During 1959 he would be one of one hundred and ten military test pilots chosen by their commanders as potential candidates for the National Aeronautics and Space Administrationís Project Mercury. This was the United Statesí first space flight program and Shepard would be chosen.
Alan Shepard Fact 11: The space race was on between the U.S. and the Soviet Union. Unfortunately the Soviets were the first in space due to technical difficulties postponing the U.S. launch.
Alan Shepard Fact 12: As pilot of the Freedom 7 mission, on May 5th 1961, Shepard would be the first American and second man to travel to space.
Alan Shepard Fact 13: A fundamental difference between the flights was that Gargarinís flight was totally automated whereas Shepard had an element of control of the Freedom 7 craft. The lift-off was also televised live and viewed by millions of people.
Alan Shepard Fact 14: Having been safely recovered from the Atlantic Ocean Shepard remarked ďdidnít really feel the flight was a success until the recovery had been successfully completed. Itís not the fall that hurts; itís the sudden stop.Ē
Alan Shepard Fact 15: Once back on terra firma he Shepard was asked what had been going through his mind while waiting to launch and he replied ďThe fact that every part of this ship was built by the lowest bidder.Ē.
Alan Shepard Fact 16: He was next scheduled to pilot the Freedom 7-II Mercury-Atlas which was to be a three day extended duration mission, however the mission was cancelled.
Alan Shepard Fact 17: He did serve as capsule communicator during Grissom and Glennís flights and was L. Gordon Cooperís back up pilot for the Mercury-Atlas 9 mission.Alan Shepard Fact 18: After his Mission had been cancelled he was selected to be Command Pilot of Project Gemini, a manned mission. However, he was diagnosed with Meniereís disease which is a condition where fluid pressure builds in the inner ear which causes disorientation, dizziness and nausea as well as extreme sensitivity. He was grounded and would be for most of the 1960ís.
Alan Shepard Fact 19: By 1969 he was reinstated to full flight status having undergone surgery. He had originally been earmarked to command Apollo 13 but it was felt more training was required. The policy was to have at least one veteran crew member on board each mission and with Shepard an original Mercury member was a bonus.
Alan Shepard Fact 20: Due to his ear trouble over nearly a decade and the short period of spaceflight experience Shepard had had so long ago as well as his age at forty seven caused some concern. However, he would get to space again, as Commander of Apollo 14 in January of 1971.
Alan Shepard Fact 21: Having been awarded the rank of Rear Admiral by President Nixon he retired from the NASA and the Navy on August the 1st 1974.
Alan Shepard Fact 22: Having retired from military service he became a business man serving on boards of various corporations as well as writing a book Moon Shot: The Inside Story of Americaís Race to the Moon.
Alan Shepard Fact 23: Alan Bartlett Shepard died of leukemia on July 21st 1998 aged seventy four years at his home in Pebble Beach, California. His body was cremated and his ashes together with those of his wife who also passed five weeks after him were scattered over Stillwater Cove by a Navy helicopter.
Influence & Legacy: His legacy was of a man born into an era of the possibility of space travel. He would just miss out on being the first human being in space because of technical difficulties but he would become the second human and first American to travel into space not once but twice and even played golf on the moon.