Project Mercury was the United States first manned space flight program. This film gives a good overview of the Mercurty Spacecraft, it’s launch into orbit on an Atlas Missile, and the training of the Mercury 7 Astronauts for the stresses and demanding requirements of space flight.
As it would happen, Project Mercury would have 6 manned launches – 2 sub-orbital on Redstone missiles, and 4 orbital missions launched on Atlas – and would prove to Americans, and to the free world, that people can safely go into space for times up to a day, and adapt to challenges that may present themselves in the flight.
While the Soviet Vostok program would maintain flights up to 4 days in orbit, as well as being the first manned spacecraft to put a human both in space and into orbit, it was still done in secret, whereas Mercury was done fully public – if there was a failure, the world would know. Each success would be followed equally in real time, and would instill great pride in those who were involved with the program and those who followed it: we weren’t as advanced as the Soviets yet, but dammit we were getting there, and in the next program, Gemini, we would surpass them.
For now though we go back to the time before the first manned flights of 1961, and first orbital Mercury flights in 1962, would happen, when we were all getting to know the machines and people that would put an American in space.
This was Project Mercury, as it was in 1960.