Go back in time Redstone rocket on the Complex 5 launch pad (circa 1996) Zoom

South of Complex 26 is Complex 5/6. Freedom 7, America's first manned space flight, was launched from Complex 5 on May 5, 1961. Freedom 7 was commanded by Alan B. Shepard, a 37 year-old Navy Commander. It was a sub-orbital lob, lasting little more than 15 minutes, but it ushered in the era of manned space flight at Cape Canaveral. Little more than two months later, on July 21, Liberty Bell 7 was launched from Complex 5 and carried Virgil I. "Gus" Grissom on a similar sub-orbital flight.

The "7" in Freedom 7 actually represents the capsule, which was factory model #7. As suggested by John Glenn, starting with the next mission (Liberty Bell 7), a "7" was appended to every mission name in honor of the "Original Seven" astronauts.

Complex 5 was also the site of several unmanned launches, including Juno rockets and the first of the Mercury Redstone flights. This was also the site of the first Mercury spaceflight carrying a passenger: Ham (a chimpanzee) was launched from this pad on a sub-orbital flight on January 31, 1961.

No gantry remains, but a Redstone missile (similar to the Mercury Redstone rocket actually used to launch Freedom 7) topped by an aluminum capsule model is in place on the launch pad. The gantry that was in use while this Complex was active resembled the one standing at Complex 26.

See the Redstone Rocket after Hurricane Floyd
Learn more about the Mercury Redstone rocket
Go back to the Complex 26 blockhouse computer room
Go back to the Complex 26 gantry
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