Based on the original audio recordings

Eleven weeks after NASA's first crewed flight, Gus Grissom became the second American and third human in space, performing another suborbital crewed flight ahead of the first orbital mission the following year. An otherwise successful mission was marred after splashdown when the hatch blew after Grissom had completed post-flight checks and was waiting for the recovery helicopter to move into place. As the capsule started taking on water, he performed an emergency egress into the water, from where a second helicopter moved in to pick him up as the primary struggled unsuccessfully to recover the capsule. A little over two weeks later, the Russians would launch Gherman Titov aboard Vostok 2, keeping the pressure on NASA to catch up in the early days of the Space Race.

This site allows you to explore transcripts of radio communications between Gus Grissom aboard Liberty Bell 7 and the NASA personnel back in Florida, along with photographs of the mission.

How the site works

The main textual content of this site comes from a transcript of radio communications between the crew and mission control; there are some limitations which stem from the original recordings.

Each line starts with a timestamp, in Ground Elapsed Time, which is the time (in days, hours, minutes and seconds or some subset for shorter missions or where we don't have timestamps down to the second) since lift off; photographs are shown inline at a suitable place. You can navigate through the transcript using the phases of the mission, and key scenes within them, or search for things that might interest you using the box at the top of the page. While browsing through the transcript, there are also links that take you to the same place in the original typescript.

Call signs

The Mercury capsule's callsign through the mission is Liberty Bell 7 or just 7; the primary CAPCOM (capsule communicator) was Alan Shepard at the Cape; Deke Slayton in the Blockhouse is identified as STONY, and CHASE 1 is another astronaut flying chase in an F-106 plane. CARDFILEs were aircraft assigned to assist communication during re-entry, recovery helicopters are identified as HUNT CLUB, and ATS is a Mercury range station aboard a US Navy ship in the Atlantic close to the landing area.

You can help

This site can be improved, and you can help — whether by correcting remaining errors (although we hope there aren't many left), by adding more photos, or marking further glossary items. The easiest way to report small errors, suggest new photos and so forth, is by dropping us an email to

There are always other missions in the pipeline. If you'd like to help get them cleaned up and published, there's a simple guide to getting involved, or if you're more technical all our code, and the transcript files, is available on GitHub, where there is information on how to get up and running. (If you're up to it, you can even fork the repository, and issue a pull request to us when you're done.)

Find out how