Fifty-five years ago today, on May 5, 1961, Alan Shepard roared off the launchpad at Cape Canaveral in his Freedom 7 capsule at the top of a Redstone rocket as the first manned launch of NASA’s Project Mercury, and became the first American in space. His sub-orbital flight was only 15 minutes long, sent the US on its way into the Space Age and the Space Race. From that first flight, it was only a year and a half later when President Kennedy challenged America to land on the moon. Space travel’s really hard, and this was a tremendous step. You can watch a great video of the flight here. Happy Astronauts’ Day, everyone.