Situated on Florida’s east coast, 15 miles from the Cape Canaveral launch pads, is the small town of Titusville. Titusville sits on the Indian River and has a lovely park on its waterfront called “Space View Park”, wherein we stopped while making our way to the Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge for some bird-watching. The park is a lovely shaded spot with some wonderful views towards the Kennedy Space Center and, to our delight, had a great monument to the earliest American astronauts, the Project Mercury team.
I was a schoolboy during the great era of space travel that President Kennedy’s challenge spawned in the 1960s. “We choose to go to the Moon in this decade and do other things not because they are easy, but because they are hard…”. The goal was to send a man to the moon and return him home safely to the Earth by the end of the decade — a goal accomplished by the Apollo 11 crew of astronauts in July 1969. As a science fiction lover it was absolutely fabulous to see the stuff of fiction become science fact, and I still regard this as one of the greatest accomplishments ever in science.
Initiated in 1958 and completed in 1963, Project Mercury was the United States’ first man-in-space program. The Mercury Project included six manned flights and 20 unmanned flights from 1961 to 1963 which had the notable accomplishments of:
· Orbiting a manned spacecraft around the earth;
· Allowing study of man’s ability to function in space;
· Recovering the astronaut and his spacecraft safely on their return to earth.
There are many panels to the monument, a few of which I’ve documented below. All are worth studying, because these brave test pilots turned astronauts are genuine heros.
Space View Park also has areas dedicated to NASA’s Apollo Program, the Sky Lab Project, but most notable to me was this section honoring The Mercury Program. Without Project Mercury, nothing else would have followed.
(Click on thumbnails to enlarge, right arrow to advance slideshow)