American astronauts

On May 5th, 1961, Astronaut Alan Bartlett Shepard Jr. became the first American in space aboard the Freedom 7 Space capsule. The brief suborbital flight, which lasted 15 minutes and reached a height of 116 miles into the atmosphere, was a milestone achievement. 

For National Astronaut Day, observed annually on May 5th, we feature a gallery from AP's photo archive highlighting American astronauts through the years. 

See these photos on

Spotlight is the blog of AP Images, the world’s largest collection of historical and contemporary photos. 

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