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Mercury 4

Mercury 4 was a Mercury program manned space mission launched on July 21, 1961 using a Redstone rocket. Its capsule was named "Liberty Bell 7" and performed a suborbital flight piloted by astronaut Virgil (Gus) Grissom.

The flight was identical to Shepard's, but an accident upon splashdown caused the loss of the spacecraft when it filled with seawater. Grissom escaped unhurt. Substantial controversy ensued as Grisson reported that the hatch had blown prematurely without his authorization. Engineering teams concluded this was unlikely. Mrs. Grissom was not invited to the White House as per a forming tradion with previous Astronaut wives upon successful mission completion. Subsequent independent technical review of the incident has raised doubts as to the veracity of the incident report conclusions that Grissom blew the hatch and was responsible for the loss of the spacecraft.

Liberty Bell 7 remained more than 15,000 feet deep on the bottom of the Atlantic Ocean until July 20, 1999, when it was raised by a team led by Curt Newport[?]. It is now part of the collection of the Kansas Cosmosphere in Hutchinson, Kansas. The capsule's hatch was not found.

Ironically, inability to swiftly open a hatch contributed to the death of Gus and two other astronauts in the Apollo_1 launch-pad fire.

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