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Original U.S. Heat Shield Fragment from Mercury-Atlas 8 Command Module Sigma 7 - Flown 3 Oct. 1962

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Original Items: One-of-a-kind set. This is a great piece of U.S. "Space Race" history! Project Mercury was the first human spaceflight program of the United States, running from 1958 through 1963. An early highlight of the Space Race, its goal was to put a man into Earth orbit and return him safely, ideally before the Soviet Union. Taken over from the US Air Force by the newly created civilian space agency NASA, it conducted twenty un-crewed developmental flights (some using animals), and six successful flights by astronauts.  The astronauts were collectively known as the "Mercury Seven", and each spacecraft was given a name ending with a "7" by its pilot.

Mercury-Atlas 8 (MA-8) was the fifth United States crewed space mission, part of NASA's Mercury program. Astronaut Walter M. Schirra Jr., orbited the Earth six times in the Sigma 7 spacecraft on October 3, 1962, in a nine-hour flight focused mainly on technical evaluation rather than on scientific experimentation. This was the longest U.S. crewed orbital flight yet achieved in the Space Race, though well behind the several-day record set by the Soviet Vostok 3 earlier in the year. It confirmed the Mercury spacecraft's durability ahead of the one-day Mercury-Atlas 9 mission that followed in 1963.

 This piece of heat shield is from the actual Sigma 7 module, and is mounted on a very nice photograph of the launch. The piece itself is about 1/4", and is inside a little circle, amidst the following text:

Flown in Space
Heatshield Fragment
From the Mercury Atlas 8
'Sigma 7' Command Module
Flown by Astronaut Wally Schirra
On October 3rd, 1962

Below the picture is also a small brass plaque which has similar information:

Flown in Space
October 3rd 1962

All of this is very nicely mounted under a sheet of glass in a metal frame. It measures about 20 1/2" x 16 1/2" x 1/2", and is in wonderful display condition. Included with the piece is a certificate of authenticity from The Space Collective, who retailed these fragments. There is also a copy of a signed letter from the NASA Employee W R Whipley, from whom the piece that this fragment was broken off of was acquired. It also shows the large square piece before it was broken up.

Aft Heat Shield Section from Sigma 7


This section of aft heat shield is from Sigma 7 also known by its mission designation of Mercury-Atlas 8. Piloted by Wally Schirra, Sigma 7 was launched October 3,1962, and was the longest U.S. space flight to date (9 hours, 13 minutes). This was nearly twice as long as previous flights. The mission was a success confirming the capabilities of the Mercury spacecraft.

This heat shield section was given to me in 1962 and has been in my possession ever since.

W.R. Whipley

This is a fantastic piece of Space Race memorabilia, ready to display!

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