Freedom 7 space capsule to be displayed at JFK Library

The Apollo 7 capsule being unloaded and installed at the John F. Kennedy Library in Boston, MA on August 29, 2012.
The capsule being unloaded at the library
Rick Friedman/JFK Library

The people who visit the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum in Boston come from across the globe. But today a famous visitor arrived that has spent time in outer space.

The library announced 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 President Kennedy’s speech at Rice University, where he vowed to send a mission to the moon.

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“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 sub-orbital flight from Cape Canaveral before it splashed down in the Atlantic Ocean. The journey lasted 15 minutes and 28 seconds.

Kennedy, felled by an assassin’s bullet in 1963, did not live to see his dream of a moon landing fulfilled. Men did not reach the moon until July 20, 1969, during the Nixon administration.