Extremely rare large flown shingle fragment from the Mercury-Atlas 1 space capsule. The ribbed exterior panel measures approximately 15.75″ x 16.5″, and features a portion of the white painted "S" from the 'United States' lettering on side of the capsule. This shingle is impressively displayed in a custom-made acrylic case, measuring 18″ x 20″ x 7.5″, with a scale model of John Glenn's MA-6 'Friendship 7' capsule displayed in the rear. In expected, worn condition.
Less than a minute after the launch of the unmanned Mercury-Atlas 1 on July 29, 1960, both its rocket and capsule sank into the Atlantic ocean following a structural failure in the craft’s Atlas rocket. 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 wear and 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.
Terms and abbreviations used in our descriptions.