Naval Aviation in Space (Mezzanine)
For many astronauts the path to outer space passed through Naval Aviation, and the Museum's space exhibit honors those extraordinary individuals. The first astronauts chosen, the famed Mercury 7, included four Naval Aviators, among them Alan Shepard, who became the first American in space on 5 May 1961. Other notable astronauts who wore Wings of Gold were John Glenn, first American to orbit Earth; Neil Armstrong, first man to walk on the moon; Eugene Cernan, last man to walk on the moon; the crew of Skylab II; and the crewmen on the maiden voyage of the Space Shuttle. In addition to providing many of the astronauts that ventured into outer space during the Mercury, Gemini, Apollo, Skylab, and Space Shuttle programs, the Navy also played a highly visible role in the recovery of the space capsules, which all landed in ocean waters.