Mercury 3 has just taken off, raising astronaut Alan Shepard?s heart rate to 126 beats a minute. The rocket will soon escape the gravitational pull of Earth, giving Shepard a stunning view of the planet.
It began with the Soviet satellite Sputnik beeping over America's skies in 1957 and entered overdrive with President Kennedy's challenge in 1961 to reach the moon by the end of the decade. The early days of the Space Race were full of urgency, uncertainty, huge risks, and even bigger rewards. Witness NASA's first team of astronauts endure a crash course in space travel, presented through rare archival footage, interviews, and objects on display and in the vaults of the Smithsonian's National Air and Space Museum.
Access even more free Smithsonian Channel full episodes and documentaries online through participating TV providers.
Find out if your television provider carries Smithsonian Channel.
Don't panic! It's simple to upgrade to the latest version of one of these browsers:
Don't panic! To get the best possible experience on smithsonianchannel.com we recommend you upgrade your operating system.
For the best possible site experience, please use Chrome for Android.
Add username "SmithsonianChan" on Snapchat for fun and fascinating facts. We'll be sharing spontaneous photos and videos as inspiration strikes.