Solving Space – Mercury Faith 7

Space Center Houston is proud to have on display in Starship Gallery Faith 7, the final Mercury spacecraft to go into orbit. It is one of five flown Mercury spacecraft on display.

Learn More About the Launch and Mission

Mercury 9, the final flight of Project Mercury, launched May 15, 1963, from Pad 14 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida. L. Gordon Cooper, the pilot of Mercury 9, named his capsule Faith 7, as a nod to his status as one of the Original 7 astronauts, and his faith in the space program. Faith 7 performed well until the 19th orbit, when a faulty sensor erroneously indicated that the spacecraft was starting reentry. Cooper had to make a manual reentry, which he managed perfectly.

Faith 7 splashed down about 80 miles southeast of Midway Island in the Pacific Ocean, just four miles from the recovery ship USS Kearsarge. This concluded a highly successful mission; its success gave NASA the confidence to move on to Project Gemini, which enabled two-person crew to master the critical techniques required to achieve a lunar landing.

Learn Before You Go

Enjoy these fun facts about Faith 7:

  • This flight was longer than all previous Mercury missions combined 
  • Cooper transmitted slow-scan black and white television images back to the Mercury Control Center (MCC) at Cape Canaveral, the first TV transmission from an American crewed spacecraft.
  • Early spacecraft were called “capsules” because they were so small.
  • Cooper conducted 11 experiments that included monitoring radiation levels, deploying a strobe beacon to see how well he could track it, observing zodiacal lights, and taking photographs of the Earth.
  • Cooper orbited the Earth 22 times and logged 34 hours and 20 minutes in space, the longest US space flight at that time.
  • The capsule had a rounded bottom to safely ablate heat when traveling through the atmosphere.
  • Both the Gemini and Apollo programs followed the basic design of Mercury.

The Mercury 9 capsule Faith 7 is currently on display at Space Center Houston.

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