The Early Missions – The United States' Original Space Patches

Project Mercury (named after Roman mythology) was the United States first human spaceflight program which ran from 1958 to 1963. It was the United States program to compete in the Space Race with the goal to launch a man into Earth orbit, ideally before the Soviet Union! Originally started as part of the U.S. Air Force (as rocket technology was a military domain) it would soon be transferred to the civilian space agency 'NASA' recently created by Congress.

The Mercury program conducted a total of 20 unmanned test flights (some using animals), and 6 successful flights by the astronauts collectively known as the "Mercury Seven" with each pilot giving their spacecraft a name ending with a "7".

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