[Alan B. Shepard, Jr.] [NASA Logo]
National Aeronautics and Space Administration

Lyndon B. Johnson Space Center
Houston, Texas 77058

Biographical Data

NAME: Alan B. Shepard, Jr. (Rear Admiral, USN, Ret.)
NASA Astronaut

Born November 18, 1923, in East Derry, New Hampshire. His mother, Mrs. Alan B. Shepard, resides in East Derry.

Brown hair; blue eyes; height: 5 feet 11 inches; weight: 170 pounds.

Attended primary and secondary schools in East Derry and Derry, New Hampshire; received a Bachelor of Science degree from the United States Naval Academy in 1944, an Honorary Master of Arts degree from Dartmouth College in 1962, and Honorary Doctorate of Science from Miami University (Oxford, Ohio) in 1971, and an Honorary Doctorate of Humanities from Franklin Pierce College in 1972; and graduated from the Naval Test Pilot School in 1951 and the Naval War College, Newport, Rhode Island in 1957.

Married to the former Louis Brewer of Kennett Square, Pennsylvania.

Laura Shepard Snyder, July 2, 1947; Julie Coleman, March 16, 1951.


Fellow of the American Astronautical Society and the Society of Experimental Test Pilots; member of the Rotary, the Kiwanis, the Mayflower Society, the Order of the Cincinnati, and the American Fighter Aces; honorary member, Board of Directors for the Houston School for Deaf Children; Director, National Space Institute, and Director, Los Angeles Ear Research Institute.

Awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor (Space), two NASA Distinguished Service Medals, the NASA Exceptional Service Medal, the Navy Astronaut Wings, the Navy Distinguished Service Medal, and the Navy Distinguished Flying Cross; recipient of the Langley Medal (highest award of the Smithsonian Institution) (May 5, 1964), the Lambert Trophy, the Kinchloe Trophy, the Cabot Award, the Collier Trophy, the City of New York Gold Medal (1971), and the American Astronautical Society's Flight Achievement Award for 1971.

Shepard began his naval career, after graduation from Annapolis, on the destroyer COGSWELL, deployed in the Pacific during World War II. He subsequently entered flight training at Corpus Christi, Texas, and Pensacola, Florida, and received his wings in 1947. His next assignment was with Fighter Squadron 42 at Norfolk, Virginia, and Jacksonville, Florida. He served several tours aboard aircraft carriers in the Mediterranean while with this squadron.

In 1950, he attended the United States Navy Test Pilot School at Patuxent River, Maryland. After graduation, he participated in flight test work which included high altitude tests to obtain data on light at different altitudes and on a variety of air masses over the American continent; and test and development experiments of the Navy's in-flight refueling system, carrier suitability trials of the F2H3 Banshee, and Navy trials of the first angled carrier deck. He was subsequently assigned to Fighter Squadron 193 at Moffett Field, California, a night fighter unit flying Banshee jets. As operations officer of this squadron, he made two tours to the Western Pacific on board the carrier ORISKANY. He returned to Patuxent for a second tour of duty and engaged in flight testing of the F3H Demon, F8U Crusader, F4D Skyray, and FllF Tigercat. He was also project test pilot on the F5D Skylancer, and his last five months at Patuxent were spent as an instructor in the Test Pilot School. He later attended the Naval War College at Newport, Rhode Island, and upon graduating in 1957 was subsequently assigned to the staff of the Commander-in-Chief, Atlantic Fleet, as aircraft readiness officer.

He has logged more than 8,000 hours flying time, including 3,700 hours in jet aircraft.

Rear Admiral Shepard was one of the Mercury astronauts named by NASA in April 1959, and he holds the distinction of being the first American to journey into space. On May 5, 1961, in the Freedom 7 spacecraft, he was launched by a Redstone vehicle on a ballistic trajectory suborbital flight, a flight which carried him to an altitude of 116 statute miles and to a landing point 302 statute miles down the Atlantic Missile Range.

In 1963, he was designated Chief of the Astronaut Office with responsi-bility for monitoring the coordination, scheduling, and control over all activi-ties involving NASA astronauts. This included monitoring the development and implementation of effective train-ing programs to assure the flight readiness of available pilot/nonpilot personnel for assignment to crew positions on manned spaceflights; furnishing pilot evaluations applicable to the design, construction, and operations of spacecraft systems and related equipment; and providing qualitative scien- tific and engineering observations to facilitate overall mission planning, formulation of feasible operational procedures, and selection and conduct of specific experiments for each flight. He was restored to full flight status in May 1969, following correc-tive surgery for an inner ear disorder.

Shepard made his second space flight as spacecraft commander on Apollo 14, January 31 - February 9, 1971. He was accompanied on man's third lunar landing mission by Stuart A. Roosa, command module pilot, and Edgar D. Mitchell, lunar module pilot. Maneuver-ing their lunar module, Antares, to a landing in the hilly upland Fra Mauro region of the moon, Shepard and Mitchell subsequently deployed and activated various scientific equipment and experiments and collected almost 100 pounds of lunar samples for return to earth. Other Apollo 14 achievements included: first use of Mobile Equipment Transporter (MET); largest payload placed

in lunar orbit; longest distance traversed on the lunar surface; largest payload returned from the lunar surface; longest lunar surface stay time (33 hours); longest lunar surface EVA (9 hours and 17 minutes); first use of shortened lunar orbit rendezvous techniques; first use of colored TV with new vidicon tube on lunar surface; and first extensive orbital science period conducted during CSM solo operations.

Shepard has logged a total of 216 hours and 57 minutes in space, of which 9 hours and 17 minutes were spent in lunar surface EVA.

He resumed his duties as Chief of the Astronaut Office in June 1971 and served in this capacity until he retired from NASA and the Navy on August 1, 1974. He is currently in private business in Houston, Texas.

SPECIAL ASSIGNMENT: Shepard was appointed by the President in July 1971 as a delegate to the 26th United Nations General Assembly and served through the entire assembly which lasted from September to December 1971.


1998 Update Re: Death of Alan Shepard

Alan B. Shepard, Jr., the first American to fly in space and one of only 12 humans who walked on the Moon, died Tuesday night after a lengthy illness in Monterey, CA. He was 74.

Shepard died on July 21, 1998 at Community Hospital on the Monterey Peninsula, according to his family.

"The entire NASA family is deeply saddened by the passing of Alan Shepard. NASA has lost one of its greatest pioneers America has lost a shining star," said NASA Administrator Daniel S. Goldin.

"Alan Shepard will be remembered, always, for his accomplishments of the past being one of the original Mercury astronauts, for being the first American to fly in space, and for being one of only 12 Americans ever to step on the Moon. He should also be remembered as someone who, even in his final days, never lost sight of the future," Goldin added.

"On behalf of the space program Alan Shepard helped launch, and all those that the space program has and will inspire, we send our deepest condolences to his wife, Louise, their children, and the rest of the Shepard family.

"Alan Shepard lived to explore the heavens. On this final journey, we wish him Godspeed."

"Alan Shepard is a true American hero, a pioneer, an original. He was part of a courageous corps of astronauts that allowed us to reach out into space and venture into the unknown," said George W.S. Abbey, Director of the Johnson Space Center, Houston, TX. "Alan Shepard gave all of us the privilege to participate in the beginnings of America's great adventure of human space exploration. He will be greatly missed. The program has lost one of its greatest supporters and a true friend. Our thoughts and prayers are with his wife, Louise, and their family."

Named as one of the nation's original seven Mercury astronauts in 1959, Shepard became the first to carry America's banner into space on May 5, 1961, riding a Redstone rocket on a 15-minute suborbital flight that took him and his Freedom 7 Mercury capsule 115 miles in altitude and 302 miles downrange from Cape Canaveral, FL.

His flight followed by three weeks the launch of Soviet cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin, who on April 12, 1961, became the first human space traveler on a one-orbit flight lasting 108 minutes.

Although the flight of Freedom 7 was brief, it nevertheless was a major step forward for the U.S. in a rapidly-accelerating race with the Soviet Union for dominance in the new arena of space.

Buoyed by the overwhelming response to Shepard's flight, which made the astronaut an instant hero and a household name, President John F. Kennedy set the nation on a course to the Moon, declaring before a joint session of Congress just three weeks later, "I believe this nation should commit itself to achieving the goal, before the decade is out, of landing a man on the Moon and returning him safely to the Earth."

Over a three and a half year period from July 1969 to December 1972, a dozen Americans explored the lunar surface. Shepard was the fifth man to walk on the Moon, and the oldest, at the age of 47.

Shepard, however, was almost bypassed for a trip to the moon. He had to overcome an inner ear problem called Meuniere’s syndrome that grounded him for several years following his initial pioneering flight.

An operation eventually cured the problem and Shepard was named to command the Apollo 14 mission. On January 31, 1971, Shepard, Command Module pilot Stuart Roosa and Lunar Module pilot Edgar Mitchell embarked for the Moon atop a Saturn 5 rocket. Shepard and Mitchell landed the lunar module Antares on February 5 in the Fra Mauro highlands while Roosa orbited overhead in the command ship Kitty Hawk.

Shepard planted his feet on the lunar surface a few hours later, declaring, "Al is on the surface, and it's been a long way, but we're here." During two excursions on the surface totaling nine hours, Shepard and Mitchell set up a science station, collected 92 pounds of rocks and gathered soil samples from the mountainous region.

Near the end of the second moonwalk, and just before entering the lunar module for the last time, Shepard--an avid golfer--hit two golf balls with a makeshift club. The first landed in a nearby crater. The second was hit squarely, and in the one-sixth gravity of the moon, Shepard said it traveled "miles and miles and miles."

Shepard's death leaves only four survivors among the original Mercury 7 astronauts: Sen. John Glenn, Scott Carpenter, L. Gordon Cooper and Walter Schirra.

Born Alan Bartlett Shepard, Jr. on Nov. 18, 1923, in East Derry, NH, he received a Bachelor of Science degree from the United States Naval Academy in 1944. Upon graduation, he married Louise Brewer, whom he met while at Annapolis. Shepard received his wings as a Naval aviator in 1947 and served several tours aboard aircraft carriers. In 1950, he attended Naval Test Pilot School at Patuxent River, MDS, and became a test pilot and instructor there. He later attended the Naval War College at Newport, RI, and after graduating, was assigned to the staff of the commander-in-chief, Atlantic Fleet, as an aircraft readiness officer.

In August 1974, Shepard, then a rear admiral, retired from both NASA and the Navy and became chairman of Marathon Construction Corp. in Houston. He later founded his own business company, Seven Fourteen Enterprises, named for his two missions on Freedom 7 and Apollo 14.

In 1984, he and the other surviving Mercury astronauts, along with Betty Grissom, the widow of astronaut Virgil I. (Gus) Grissom, founded the Mercury Seven Foundation to raise money for scholarships for science and engineering students in college. In 1995, the organization was renamed the Astronaut Scholarship Foundation. Shepard was elected president and chairman of the foundation, posts he held until October 1997, when he turned over both positions to former astronaut James A. Lovell.

Survivors include his widow*, Louise, daughters Julie, Laura and Alice and six grandchildren.

*NASA received word that Louise Shepard, the widow of Alan Shepard, died Aug. 25, 1998. She died while en route from San Francisco to her home in Monterey, Calif., following a visit with her daughter, Laura, in Evergreen, Colo.

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