Mercury Missions

By: Prateek Kasliwal

Mariner 10

  • Mariner 10 was launched on November 3, 1973 to fly past Mercury. Its main objectives were to measure Mercury’s environment, atmosphere, and to capture images of their surface. The mission ended in March 1975. Mariner 10 is still orbiting the sun, even though its electronic systems have probably been destroyed by solar radiation.

Grand Explorations: Mariner 10 - Orbiter Space Flight Simulator


MESSENGER was NASA’s second mission to Mercury. It was launched on August 3, 2004 to study the planet, except this time it would be orbiting around Mercury to study its electronics fail. After this flight, the MESSENGER will go back to Mercury another 4 times, March 18, 2011 being the last flight.

Project Mercury

Began in 1958, completed in 1963, Project Mercury was the United States' first man in space program. The objectives of the program, which made six manned flights from 1961 to 1963, were....

  • To orbit a manned spacecraft around Earth

  • To investigate man's ability to function in space

  • To recover both man and spacecraft safely

The Mercury program used two launch vehicles. A Redstone for the suborbital and an Atlas for the four orbital flights.

Project Mercury lasted for about 4 years. There followers were Gemini and Apollo, but there rivals were the Vostok Program (Soviet). On 4 October 1957 the Soviet Union had launched the first artificial satellite Sputnik 1 and that started the Space Race. This started a big competition between the Mercury Project and the Soviet Vostok Program. What they were trying to do was to bring a pilot into space and in orbit around Earth.

For the Mercury Project, there were six spacecrafts that carried human passengers and there were 20 test flights of the Mercury capsule and various boosters.

NASA's Mercury Project from 8mm film
This is the amount of money that was used for the Mercury project.

Spacecraft: $135.3 million

Launch vehicles: $82.9 million

Operations: $49.3 million

Tracking operations and equipment: $71.9 million

Facilities: $53.2 million