People who visit the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum come from across the globe. But Wednesday a famous visitor arrived that has spent time in outer space.
The library said that Freedom 7, the Mercury space capsule that Alan B. Shepard Jr. rode on the first American manned flight into space, had arrived.
The capsule is being installed for public display, beginning Sept. 12, the library said.
Sept. 12 is the 50th anniversary of the day of Kennedy’s speech at Rice University, where he vowed to send a manned mission to the moon. “We choose to go to the moon in this decade and do the other things not because they are easy, but because they are hard, because that goal will serve to organize and measure the best of our energies and skills,” Kennedy said in the speech.
On May 5, 1961, Shepard rode the capsule into a suborbital flight from Cape Canaveral in Florida, then splashed down in the Atlantic Ocean.
The journey lasted 15 minutes and 28 seconds.
Kennedy died before his dream of a moon landing was fulfilled. Men reached the moon on July 20, 1969, during the Nixon administration.
The capsule had been on display at the US Naval Academy in Annapolis, Md., since 1998. Caroline Kennedy had asked that the spacecraft be brought to the museum to honor her father’s role in America’s space program.