Mercury Videos

The portable cameras onboard some of the early Mercury test flights were mounted to provide a view out the exterior window. The cameras were configured to take pictures at defined intervals. We have compiled together the image sequences from MR-1A, MR-2, MR-3, MA-4, and MA-5 into the videos below for viewing and download. These videos are not derived from the footage taken by the 16 mm video cameras that were used during some of the later missions.

Mercury-Redstone 1A

MR-1A was an uncrewed mission that launched on December 19, 1960. The mission objective of MR-1A was to qualify systems for suborbital operations. The mission duration was 15 minutes 45 seconds.

Download video (65 MB)

Mercury-Redstone 2

MR-2 carried Ham (a chimpanzee) on January 31, 1961. Mission objective was to subject primate to suborbital conditions and test auto abort. Mission duration was 16 minutes, and 39 seconds.

Download video (56 MB)

Mercury-Redstone 3

MR-3 was crewed by Alan B. Shepard, Jr., who became the first American in space on May 5, 1961. Mission objective was to determine human capabilities in a space environment and in those environments to which humans will be subject upon going into and returning from space. Spacecraft used was the Freedom 7. Mission duration was 15 minutes, and 28 seconds.

Download video (44 MB)

Mercury-Atlas 4

MA-4 was an uncrewed mission on September 13, 1961. The mission objective was to assess spacecraft environment control in orbit. Mission duration was 1 hour, 49 minutes, and 20 seconds.

Download video (84 MB)

Mercury-Atlas 5

MA-5 carried Enos (a chimpanzee) on November 29, 1961. Mission objective was a primate test of the environmental control system in orbit. Mission duration was 3 hours, 20 minutes, and 59 seconds.

Download video (87 MB)

About the Videos

To create these videos, the low-resolution, processed image products from each mission were used. These images were sequenced together into videos and short, text introductions were added. Each video has a pixel resolution of approximately 600x626.

For each mission, the camera was configured to automatically take pictures every "X" seconds. The time between each actual picture taken is approximately six seconds (this can be verified using the clock that is embedded in each photo). The only exception to this is Mercury Atlas 5, which has a sequence rate of approximately 32 seconds.

However, creating the videos in the original six-second intervals would result in a very slow video. Each video above was created at approximately six frames per second. This means that six photos are displayed every second in the video (keeping in mind that the photos were also actually shot six seconds apart, on average).

Considering these above two factors (time between each picture taken and the frame rate in videos) accounts for the "dodgy-ness" of the videos. The other issue that may be noticed, is the misalignment of the frames. This is due to the nature of the scanning process which makes the frame alignment within the scan difficult. More about the scanning process may be read here.