Science Past from the issue of November 19, 1960
MERCURY CAPSULE FAILS — Failure of the test shot of the Mercury space capsule and its pilot escape system will not “necessarily” delay putting a man in space, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration reported. NASA has scheduled a manned rocket launch for 1961. The Mercury spacecraft, designed to take an astronaut safely into outer space and return him to earth, failed to separate from its Little Joe rocket booster 13 miles from Wallops Island, Va., where it was launched. “If the cause of the malfunction is a minor mechanical failure, I see no reason why the Mercury Project program should be delayed,” an NASA spokesman said.… If the design should be at fault, this will be a serious setback to the United States program.