Spaceflight Insider

US celebrates first National Astronaut Day

Freedom 7 flight

Alan Shepard, inside the Freedom 7 Mercury capsule, launches skyward on May 5, 1961. Photo Credit: NASA

The day was May 5, 1961. Alan Shepard, aided by Gunter Wendt and the rest of the launch pad crew, was strapped into the seat of the most daring vehicle America had constructed—the one-man Mercury space capsule. Moments later, he rocketed to the heavens becoming America’s first astronaut crossing into the new frontier of space. The entire sub-orbital trip lasted just 15 minutes.

Today, the United States celebrated the first National Astronaut Day. The day is meant to pay tribute to the daring souls who risked everything to expand the horizon of mankind’s knowledge and prowess.

Not all of those who dared “the ragged edge” came back from it, however. Along the way, three crews were lost—Apollo 1 in a pad fire in 1967, Space Shuttle Challenger 73 seconds after liftoff in 1986, and Space Shuttle Columbia during re-entry in 2003.

National Astronaut Day was created by talent and marketing agency Uniphi Space Agency, a firm representing over 20 former NASA astronauts. Uniphi is partnering this inaugural year with Fisher Space Pens. Together they have created a set of collectible space pens featuring astronaut autographs.

Proceeds from the sale of these collectibles will be donated to charities chosen by Uniphi’s astronauts. In addition to the collectible pens, a set of downloadable trading cards featuring the astronauts is also available.

Just as Yuri’s Night marks the start of human space exploration, National Astronaut Day reminds Americans of the steps the U.S. has taken to open the door to the frontier of space.

National Astronaut Day Group Photo

Uniphi Space Agency officials, representatives from Fisher Space Pen as well as astronauts Brian Duffy, Leroy Chiao, Mark Brown, Susan Helms, and Frank Culbertson announce National Astronaut Day. Photo Credit: Uniphi Space Agency


Joe Latrell is a life-long avid space enthusiast having created his own rocket company in Roswell, NM in addition to other consumer space endeavors. He continues to design, build and launch his own rockets and has a passion to see the next generation excited about the opportunities of space exploration. Joe lends his experiences from the corporate and small business arenas to organizations such as Teachers In Space, Inc. He is also actively engaged in his church investing his many skills to assist this and other non-profit endeavors.

Reader Comments

Great news and happy to see that our astronaut heroes finally have their national recognition day. We, as a nation, are proud of our trail blazing pioneers. Let this day continue to grow, prosper and educate future generations on their incredible accomplishments.

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