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Mercury Atlas 3



Mercury Atlas 3 (MA-3) was to be an orbital flight test of the Mercury capsule. The capsule contained a mechanical astronaut. After lift-off, the launch vehicle failed to roll to a 70 degree heading and to pitch over into the proper trajectory. The abort-sensing system activated the escape rockets prior to the launch vehicle's destruction by the range safety officer, appoximately 40 s into the flight. At that time the vehicle had achieved an altitude of about 5 km. The capsule then coasted up to 7 km, deployed its parachutes, and landed in the Atlantic Ocean about 1.8 km north of the launch pad. The capsule was recovered and was found to have incurred only superficial damage. It was subsequently shipped back to the manufacturer for refitting. The refitted capsule was reflown on Mercury Atlas 4.

Alternate Names

  • MA 3
  • MercuryAtlas3

Facts in Brief

Launch Date: 1961-04-25
Launch Vehicle: Atlas D
Launch Site: Cape Canaveral, United States
Mass: 907.2 kg

Funding Agency

  • NASA-Office of Manned Space Flight (United States)


  • Engineering
  • Earth Science

Additional Information

Questions and comments about this spacecraft can be directed to: Dr. Edwin V. Bell, II



NameRoleOriginal AffiliationE-mail
Mr. Niles R. HellerProject ManagerNASA Goddard Space Flight Center

Selected References

  • Grimwood, J. M., Project Mercury: A chronology, NASA, SP-4001, Wash., D.C., 1963.

Other Sources of MA-3 Information/Data

MA-3 information (NASA KSC)
MR-1 Press Release images (NASA JSC)

Project Mercury Drawings and Technical Diagrams (NASA History Office)

On-line version of Project Mercury: A Chronology (NASA History Office)

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