Ohio Valley Soaceport

Ohio Valley Soaceport

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Mercury Madness!!!

The Mercury was America's pioneering spacecraft. Project Mercury was designed to be the first to take men into space. The Soviet Union beat the United States by launch Yuri Gagarin into Earth orbit weeks before the first American spaceshot.  The one-seater Mercury was demonstrate that man could adapt to the weightless conditions of space.

America's Mercury Astronauts

Between 1961-1963 six Mercury missions took American astronauts into space. Alan B. Shepard took the first flight in his Freedom 7 in May 1961 as a sub-orbital "lob". He was followed by Virgil "Gus" Grissom in a second sub orbital flight with his ship Liberty Bell 7. The first earth orbit flight was carried out by John Glenn in his Friendship 7 in February 1962. He was followed by Scott Carpenter in his Aurora 7 later in 1962. Walter Schirra broaden his mission by flying 6 orbits in his Sigma 7. The final flight was in May 1963 by Gordon "Gordo" Cooper with 22 orbits in his Faith 7. Seventh Mercury astronaut Deke Slayton was grounded and didn't flew until 1975 on the Apollo/Soyuz flight.

All six Mercurys are on display at various NASA and science centers across the United States. My goal is to eventually see all 6. As of this date I have seen four: Freedom 7 (was at the Naval Academy in Annapolis, MD), Friendship 7 (National Air and Space Museum in Washington), Aurora 7 (Museum of Science and Industry in Chicago), and Sigma 7 (Astronaut Hall of Fame in Titusville, FL). Below are a few photos of these spacecraft:

Freedom 7 
May 5, 1961

Freedom 7 on display at the U.S. Naval Academy in July 2004

Periscope assembly for Freedom 7

Friendship 7
First American Orbital Flight: February 20, 1962

Friendship 7 on display at the National Air and Space Museum in July 2004

Friendship 7 heatshield

Aurora 7
May 24, 1962

Aurora 7 at the Chicago Museum of Science and Industry in November of 2012

Aurora 7 flight deck

cutaway of the Aurora 7 heatshield

Sigma 7
October 3, 1962

Sigma 7 at the Astronaut Hall of Fame near Kennedy Space Center in 2008.

Sigma 7 flight deck

Sigma 7 window

Sigma 7 parachute compartment

Scale Models of the Mercury

Over the years there have been a number of model kits depicting the Mercury. Some of these kits were of the two launchers that carried the Mercury: Redstone and Atlas. This feature will focus on a few of the more mainstream kits;

1/48 Revell Mercury Kit
The Revell company first issues a 1/48 scale kit back in 1964 as a packaged deal that included both a Mercury and Gemini spacecraft. This kit has been re-issued countless times over the past nearly 50 years. 

A 1997 re-issue of the 1/48 scale Revell Mercury with modified update parts by RealSpace and decals by Space Model Systems.

Close up of the RealSpace detail set 

1/12 Atomic City/MRC Mercury

What is arguably the finest injection real space kit to have ever been produced is the Atomic City 1/12 scale Mercury. This kit is a masterpiece of detail!

Atomic City's killer Mercury kit.

The detail is astounding!

A view of the retro-pack details
This was essentially out of the box!

Here is a conversion to depict Freedom 7 with the launch escape tower

A close-up of the Freedom 7 retro pack.

Close-up of the kits astronaut figure and flight deck

Another view of the Freedom 7 model.

Delta 7 Studios

Paper modeling has come into its on in recent years. Delta 7 studios has a line of paper kits including the Mercury that are amazing in detail.  Delta 7 Studios Mercury Paper Kit

I scaled this to 1/35. Looks almost like a styrene kit with the surface detail.
A view of the Delta 7 retro pack.

New Items of Interest!

Our friends at Dragon Models have announced the release of a kit version of the Saturn 5 moonrocket in 1/72 scale.
Dragon's upcoming 1/72 Saturn 5
 I came across this interesting item on Ebay. Not sure if it is from an independent garage kit or some enterprising entrepreneur. It is an update kit of a space shuttle cockpit for the 1/72 Monogram kit.


1 comment:

  1. You'll find the 1/72 shuttle cockpit creator here