Tom Jennings, Filmmaker of ‘The Real Right Stuff’, Talks with Steve Wilson About Project Mercury

Alan Shepard – one of NASA's first seven astronauts – became the first American in space

WATCH: Tom Jennings talks with Steve Wilson in the latest edition of “Sit Down with Steve.” Jennings is the filmmaker of the documentary The Real Right Stuff. The documentary chronicles Project Mercury, the Mercury 7 astronauts, and all things space-related that took place during that time.

On May 5, 1961, Alan Shepherd became the first American to be launched into space. Jennings talks about this milestone accomplishment, the amazing behind-the-scenes footage in the documentary, and much more in this exclusive interview.

President John F. Kennedy, right, awards NASA’s Distinguished Service Medal to astronaut Shepard in a Rose Garden ceremony on May 8, 1961, at the White House. In the background are the other members of the Mercury Seven, NASA’s original astronauts. (NASA Image)

On May 5, 1961, Alan Shepard – one of NASA’s first seven astronauts – became the first American in space.

In this image, President John F. Kennedy, right, awards NASA’s Distinguished Service Medal to astronaut Shepard in a Rose Garden ceremony on May 8, 1961, at the White House.

In the background are the other members of the Mercury Seven, NASA’s original astronauts.

Shepard’s Freedom 7 Mercury capsule flew a suborbital trajectory lasting 15 minutes 22 seconds.

His spacecraft landed in the Atlantic Ocean where he and his capsule were recovered by helicopter and transported to the awaiting aircraft carrier U.S.S. Lake Champlain.

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