July 25th, 2011
05:05 PM ET

Liberty Bell 7

"Astronaut Gus Grissom climbs into his 'Liberty Bell 7' spacecraft on July 21, 1961. The Mercury-Redstone 4 rocket successfully launched the Liberty Bell 7 at 7:20 a.m. that morning. This was the second in a series of successful U.S. manned suborbital flights."

Source: NASA

Filed under: Light up the screen
soundoff (5 Responses)
  1. FlyingSolo

    Oh, stop... For the love of god, people, get a grip! R-E-A-D more; do a little research... The duct tape held a *temporary* protective plastic cover over the Mercury capsule's hatch window to prevent inadvertent damage (nicks, scrapes or scratches) by the ground support crew that could potentially compromise it's integrity while under pressurization during the flight. They were being just *extra* careful, that's all. The cover was removed before liftoff. Several dozen hand-turned bolts secured the hatch in place – *not* the duct tape. An explosive charge was incorporated to blow the bolted hatch off in the event of an emergency. It worked as designed, but unfortunately not as intended!
    Liberty Bell 7 *was* raised intact from the Atlantic several years ago. In fact, it was on display at the Liberty (how appropriate!) Science Center in New Jersey! Not sure if they ever found the hatch (yet). There was speculation by those who found the capsule it might help solve the mystery of the hatch blowing unexpectedly.
    Got a chance to see Liberty Bell 7 – it's in remarkable condition, even after spending several decades under the briny deep. RIP Gus, and godspeed! I wasn't even born yet when he first flew, but always wanted to be an astronaut after watching spellbound Apollo 11 at the tender age of 3!

    July 27, 2011 at 1:22 pm |
  2. gailschum

    Yah, my first thought too – "is that really duct tape?" The entire space program – especially the early years were really lo-tech by today's standards, all pencil and slide rule calculations. You wonder how they did it – really

    July 26, 2011 at 6:56 pm |
  3. Bjorn

    I wonder if the duct tape had anything to do with that the hatch blew after landing in the sea. I, for one, believes Gus spoke the truth when he said "The hatch just blew!", even if there was bad communication between him and the pick-up team. I think someone should reopen the case today. For Gus and his wife this flight was a personal tragedy, and then he died in a capsule fire six years later. Gus' family deserves another look at the Liberty Bell 7 incident. The nation needs to know the real truth. Perhaps one can salvage the capsule from deep water today, with our new technology?

    July 25, 2011 at 8:03 pm |
  4. Sarah

    I was thinking the same. Duct tape. And he felt safe enough to leave the Earth in that. Amazing. Truly amazing

    July 25, 2011 at 5:52 pm |
  5. jester1028

    wow!....check out the duct-tape on the window.

    July 25, 2011 at 5:36 pm |

Contributors

  • Elizabeth LandauElizabeth Landau
    Writer/Producer
  • Sophia DengoSophia Dengo
    Senior Designer