On January 19, 1961, Robert R. Gilruth, the director of NASA’s Space Task Group, informed the seven astronauts that Shepard had been chosen for the first American crewed mission into space.
Although the Shepards were well off, the children were not coddled. Their father valued work and made sure each child performed their share of domestic chores. Alan’s father was a stern and serious disciplinarian, Alan inherited a stoicism and toughness of character from him. But, Alan was closer to his mother and got his playfulness from her.
In the Astronaut Office, it was his intellectual bent that set him apart from some of the other pilots, along with a certain hard edge.
A Saturn V liftoff is spectacular, and the launch of Apollo 11 was no exception. But it didn’t give the audience any surprises. To the three Gemini-experienced pilots, who likened the sensation to the boost of a Titan II, it was a normal launch.