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Space

Salvage team heading out to recover Mercury capsule

July 1, 1999
Web posted at: 2:12 PM EDT (1812 GMT)

capsue
Liberty Bell 7  

(CNN) -- A salvage team was set to leave Thursday on a mission to recover a piece of American spaceflight history from the ocean floor.

The Mercury space capsule known as Liberty Bell 7 carried Gus Grissom, America's second man into space, who blasted off for a 15-minute flight on July 21, 1961.

He was rescued after emergency explosives detonated following his splashdown, blowing off the capsule's escape hatch. The capsule sank to the bottom of the Atlantic, where it has remained for 38 years.

Beating the odds, a salvage crew led by Curt Newport found the telephone-booth-sized capsule in May, sitting upright three miles (4.8 km) below sea level on a ridge that runs along the Atlantic Ocean floor within a 24-square-mile (62-square-km) search area off Grand Bahama Island.

But the underwater robotic rover used to identify and photograph the spacecraft sank in rough seas, putting recovery efforts on hold until a new vessel could be obtained.



RELATED STORIES:
CNN - Mercury capsule located on ocean floor; recovery next - May 3, 1999
CNN - Ocean expedition hopes to salvage Mercury space capsule - April 17, 1999
CNN - The Mercury 7: Heroes, rivals, brothers

RELATED SITES:
NASA Homepage
Discovery Online
Project Mercury

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