When Alan Shepard was waiting for liftoff to become the first American in space, a reporter asked him what he was thinking about. He replied “The fact that every part of this ship was built by the low bidder.”
May 5, 1961 - Alan Shepard became the first American in space. Although the flight was originally scheduled for October 1960, delays by unplanned preparatory work meant that this was postponed several times, initially to March 6, 1961 and finally to May 5. On April 12, 1961, Soviet cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin had become the first person in space and to orbit the Earth.