Rare flown panel fragment from the Mercury-Atlas 1 space capsule. The ribbed exterior panel measures approximately 21.25 x 19.75. In expected condition. Less than a minute after the launch of Mercury-Atlas 1, both its rocket and capsule sank into the Atlantic ocean following a structural failure in the craft’s Atlas rocket on July 29, 1960. Successful recovery of the capsule and portions of the rocket showed that the vent valve and a still-attached segment of piping had noticeable fatigue cracks, leading engineers to conclude that reinforced skin structure and shallower launch trajectories need be implemented for future Mercury-Atlas launches. The capsule, including this piece, reached an apogee of 8.7 miles and flew almost six miles down range. The artifact’s deformation captures the violence of both a high-velocity airborne breakup and the craft’s subsequent impact with open ocean. A uniquely impressive display piece. Oversized.
Terms and abbreviations used in our descriptions.