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Liberty Bell 7 Fun Facts

Join us in celebrating the 60th anniversary of Liberty Bell 7 with these Fun Facts about the Mercury spacecraft. 

Find out more about Liberty Bell 7 here.

Mission Fun Facts:

  • Gus Grissom’s Liberty Bell 7 flight (sub-orbital) took place on July 21, 1961, and only lasted 15 minutes, 37 seconds.
  • It was a textbook mission until splashdown, when the spacecraft’s hatch door prematurely ejected off the craft— allowing it to fill with seawater and nearly drowning Grissom.
  • Liberty Bell 7 was released from the rescue helicopter and the spacecraft sank nearly three miles to the bottom of the Atlantic and stayed there for 38 years.
  • “Liberty Bell 7” was an appropriate call-sign for the bell-shaped spacecraft. The name was synonymous with “freedom”. As a tribute to the original Liberty Bell, a “crack” was painted on the side of the spacecraft.

Recovery Fun Facts:

  • In 1999, an expedition to recover the craft from its resting place more than 16,000 feet deep—deeper than the Titanic— was led by the Discovery Channel, Oceaneering and the Cosmosphere.  
  • The spacecraft was recovered on July 20, 1999—the 30th anniversary of Man walking on the Moon!
  • The spacecraft was returned to Port Canaveral, Florida, on July 21, 1999, exactly 38 years after its flight into space.

Preservation Fun Facts:

  • In 1999, SpaceWorks, a division of the Cosmosphere, meticuously restored and presevered the craft to the state it is today.
  • It took the Cosmosphere’s SpaceWorks team nearly six months (almost 7,300 hours) to fully restore the craft to the condition you see it in today— as its entire system had to first be flushed of salt water and then corrosion removed from its 20,000 parts.
  • 12 full-time Space Works restoration experts and eight part-time Cosmosphere volunteers worked to preserve Liberty Bell 7.
  • 52 Winged Liberty Head dimes were found inside Liberty Bell 7 during its preservation.
  • 10 miles of wiring was removed from Liberty Bell 7 during the preservation process. 
  • The cost of the Liberty Bell 7 preservation project was $250,000 in 1999.
  • The Liberty Bell 7 spacecraft is owned by the Cosmosphere! It makes the Cosmosphere the ONLY place in the Midwest where visitors can see a flown craft from each early spaceflight program: Mercury: Liberty Bell 7, Gemini: Gemini X and Apollo: Apollo 13’s Odyssey.