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US Manned Spacecraft History And Photography
Mercury MR-4 — Liberty Bell 7
Kansas State Cosmosphere
Hutchinson, KS

Mercury Liberty Bell 7

• Serial Number:11
• Mission:MR-4
• Nickname:Liberty Bell 7
• Crew:Grissom
• Launch Date:7-21-1961
• Flight Duration:0 Hours, 16 Minutes
Mercury Liberty Bell 7 spacecraft on display in a traveling museum exhibit. At the time of this photo, May 2006, the display was at the Strategic Aerospace Museum in Ashland, Nebraska. Liberty Bell 7 will return to the Kennedy Space Center for display through the summer of 2006, then head to the Kansas State Cosmosphere for permanent display.

The Liberty Bell 7 mission was a near flawless repeat of Alan Shepard's flight in Freedom 7 two months earlier. However, the spacecraft hatch unexpectedly blew off shortly after splashdown, and the capsule began to take on water. Grissom exited the capsule, and a US Navy helicopter hooked onto Liberty Bell 7 to try to lift it out of the ocean. Just as the chopper went to full power, the pilot received an indicator light that they had metal in the oil, a sure sign that the engine was just about ready to fail. The chopper was forced to cut the spacecraft loose, and watch it sink. Meanwhile, Gus Grissom was in the water with his space suit filling with water. He was in real trouble. A second chopper moved in to pick up the sinking astronaut, saving his life.

Fast forward to 1999, and the Discovery Channel funds a mission to search for and recover Liberty Bell 7. An initial exploration located approximately 80 likely targets on the sea bed. The recovery mission did not have time to search all of the targets, so they ranked them in order. Remarkably, the first target that they selected to search turned out to be the long lost Mercury spaceship. Liberty Bell 7 was recovered, restored by the experts at the Kansas State Cosmosphere, and put on display for the public to view.

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