The unmanned Mercury-Atlas 3 lifts off the pad, April 25, 1961. Image courtesy NASA/NSSDCA.

On this date in 1961, Mercury MA-3, carrying a ‘mechanical astronaut,’ was launched in a failed attempt to orbit the spacecraft. The spacecraft was successfully recovered and shipped back to McDonnell Aircraft for refitting.

To learn more about the Mercury program, visit NASA’s Project Mercury history pages here.