Rear Admiral Shepard was one of the Mercury astronauts named by NASA in April 1959, and he holds the distinction of being the first American to journey into space.
On May 5, 1961, in the Freedom 7 spacecraft, he was launched by a Redstone vehicle on a ballistic trajectory suborbital flight--a flight which carried him to an altitude of 116 statute miles and to a landing point 302 statute miles down the Atlantic Missile Range.
In 1963, he was designated Chief of the Astronaut Office with responsibility for monitoring the coordination, scheduling, and control of all activities involving NASA astronauts.
He was restored to full flight status in May 1969, following corrective surgery for an inner ear disorder. Shepard made his second space flight as spacecraft commander on Apollo 14.
Rear Admiral Shepard has logged a total of 216 hours and 57 minutes in space, of which 9 hours and 17 minutes were spent in lunar surface EVA. He resumed his duties as Chief of the Astronaut Office in June 1971 and served in this capacity until he retired from NASA and the Navy on August 1, 1974.