Image above: Astronaut Virgil I. (Gus) Grissom, suited up and ready to climb into Liberty Bell 7 spacecraft, poses for a picture. Backup pilot John Glenn is in the right corner of the view behind Grissom.
Image: NASA.

On this date in 1961, Mercury MR-4 “Liberty Bell 7” flight, manned by Astronaut Virgil I. Grissom and boosted by a Redstone rocket, reached a peak altitude of 190.3 km and a speed of 8,335 km per hour. After a flight of 15 minutes and 37 seconds, the landing was made 487 km downrange from the launch site. The hatch blew while still in the ocean , and the capsule sank; Grissom was saved, though his suit was filling up with water. The capsule was recovered in the summer of 1999.