My life started just after the United States space program did, so I was a little to young to recall naval aviator Alan B. Shepard, become the first American in space on 5 May 1961. He did it in a Mercury capsule, much like this mockup at the National Naval Aviation Museum in Pensacola, Florida. A bust of Shepard, who later walked on the moon as commander of Apollo 14 in 1971, is displayed next to this capsule mock-up.
The long red rocket on top of the capsule is the Launch Escape System. It was designed to quickly separate the crew module from the rest of the rocket in case of emergency. In the left corner is a photo of an Apollo capsule on display also.