Splashdown in the Pacific Ocean and recovery of the Faith 7 spacecraft hosting Gordon Cooper on board USS Kearsarge

Space Mission
Mercury Atlas 9, May 16, 1963

NASA / Unidentified Photographer

Photo Description
Three vintage gelatin silver prints on fiber-based paper, each 20.3 x 25.4cm (8 x 10in), the first and second with NASA HQ captions on the versos, the third with NASA MSC caption on the verso and numbered “NASA S-63-7884” in black in top margin

After 22 orbits, virtually all spacecraft systems had failed, and the capsule reentered safely under the manual control of the pilot who was able to guide the spacecraft to a pinpoint landing.

“Down by hand, right on the nose. This series shows ‘Faith 7’ as it swings under its 65-foot ringsail parachute before splashing down an even 7,000 yards from the waiting USS Kearsarge, prime recovery ship. This is the second orbital flight in a row in which the spacecraft has splashed down within sight of the USS Kearsage’s crew” (NASA caption, first photograph).

“Three Navy frogmen attach a flotation collar to ‘Faith 7’ minutes after the spacecraft splashed down less than four miles from the carrier Kearsarge, and within sight of those on board” (NASA caption, second photograph).

“’Faith 7’ comes to rest on a solid surface again after 34 hours and 20 minutes in space as she is lowered to the deck of the carrier Kearsarge southeast of Midway Island in the Pacific” (NASA caption, third photograph).
Cooper was still inside ‘Faith 7’ after he travelled nearly 875,000 km. He was reported in good condition, and this turned out to be the final Mercury flight.