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Alan Shepard

Alan Shepard


11/18/1923, Derry, New Hampshire



Birth Name

Alan Bartlett Shepard, Jr.



Also Known As

Alan Bartlett Shepard, Jr., Alan Shepard Jr.
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Alan Shepard, Rear Admiral USN, was the first US Astronaut in space. He was deployed in the Pacific during World War II and later attended the U.S. Naval Test Pilot School at Patuxent River, Maryland, before becoming a test pilot. During Mercury 3, Shepard rode aboard Freedom 7,…more


Trivia and Quotes

  • Trivia

    • Shepard was played by Scott Glenn in the movie The Right Stuff and by Ted Levine in the HBO miniseries From The Earth To The Moon.

    • When Shepard was on the aircraft carrier Lake Champlain after Freedom 7's landing, President John F. Kennedy phoned the ship to congratulate him.

    • Shepard co-wrote the book Moon Shot: The Inside Story of America's Race to the Moon in 1988 with fellow astronaut Deke Slayton.

    • Shepard is referenced in the 2006 movie The Astronaut Farmer. Billy Bob Thornton's character, a former NASA astronaut who never got to go into space and plans to do so by building his own rocket, has a teenage son named Shepard who is extremely interested in space flight.

    • While waiting for the launch of Freedom 7, which was repeatedly delayed, Shepard asked Mission Control to "solve your little problems and light this candle." This is referenced in the 2000 movie Mission To Mars; before entering orbit around Mars, astronaut Woody Blake (Tim Robbins) says, "Okay, let's light this candle!"

    • While Shepard was waiting for the launch of Freedom 7, he said, "Please, dear God, don't let me f*** up." This phrase became known among aviators as "Shepard's Prayer."

    • Shepard smuggled two golf balls and a modified 6-iron on his Apollo 14 flight and then played the first-ever game of golf on the moon.

    • Shepard was appointed in 1971 to be a US delegate on the 26th United Nations General Assembly.

    • Shepard was awarded the NASA Exceptional Achievement Medal.

    • Shepard was awarded two NASA Distinguished Service Medals.

    • Shepard was awarded the Congressional Space Medal of Honor.

    • Shepard was a Rear Admiral in the Navy when he retired from the Astronaut Corps on August 1, 1974.

    • Shepard made his second trip in to space when he was the commander of Apollo 14 (the third successful lunar landing).

    • May 5, 1961, Shepard travelled into space on Freedom 7 during the Mercury 3 mission.

    • Shepard was the first American astronaut to travel into space.

    • Shepard logged more than 8000 hours flying time including 3700 hours in jet aircraft.

    • Shepard graduated Naval Test Pilot School in 1951.

    • Shepard received a Honorary Doctorate of Science from Miami University in 1971.

    • Shepard received a Honorary Masters of Arts degree from Dartmouth College in 1962.

    • Shepard graduated from Admiral Farragut Academy in 1941.

  • Quotes

    • Alan Shepard: During the actual process of flying spacecraft, or flying the Spirit of St. Louis, one doesn't think of oneself as being a hero or historical figure. One does it because the challenge is there, and one feels reasonably qualified to accomplish it. And it's later on, I suppose, perhaps at the suggestion of other people, that you say, Well, yes, maybe. I must admit, maybe I am a piece of history after all.

    • Alan Shepherd: It's a very sobering feeling to be up in space and realize that one's safety factor was determined by the lowest bidder on a government contract.