Mercury / Redstone - 1/48

The Mercury / Redstone project was the first attempt by the US to send an American in outer space. The Redstone booster was very similar to the Jupiter C or Juno rockets that launched the first US satellites. Although Jupiter C was able to orbit the Explorer 1 satellite in 1958, the redstone did not have the ability to orbit a manned spacecraft even the small Mercury capsule.

The redstone could then launch the Mercury Capsule on a ballistic trajectory to an altitude of about 180 km. The entire flight was about 15 minutes long, allowing about 5 minutes of weightlessness. This was enough to test the piloting ability of the Mercury spacecraft and the reentry procedure. The first manned flight occured on May 5th, 1961 with Alan Shepard on board (MR-7, 3 weeks after Gagarin's flight) and the second flight occured on July 21st, 1961 with Gus Grissom (MR-8). The following Mercury flights used the Atlas booster which had orbit capability for the Mercury spacecraft.

The model features the Mercury 4 mission of Gus Grissom (Mercury Redstone 8 or Liberty Bell 7). Although the rocket was launched on July 21st, 1961, recovery of the spacecraft occured 38 years later. A few minutes after splashdown the hatch blew up, water began to fill the spacecraft and the helicopter to which the capsule was attached was forced to cut the cable because of the heavier weigth of the capsule. Liberty Bell 7 sank and was only recovered in 1999. Images of the recovered spacecraft can be found here.

The model used a Glencoe Jupiter C booster as a base, a polyester copy was made of the Monogram Mercury spacecraft. Escape tower and instrument section were scratchbuilt. The following page shows the various steps of modifying the Jupiter C into a Mercury Redstone booster.

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