Goals and Guidelines
The goals of the program were to orbit a manned spacecraft around Earth, investigate the pilot's ability to function in space and to recover both pilot and spacecraft safely.
NASA also established program guidelines: existing technology and off-the-shelf equipment should be used wherever practical, the simplest and most reliable approach to system design would be followed, an existing launch vehicle would be employed to place the spacecraft into orbit, and a progressive and logical test program would be used.
Project requirements for the spacecraft were that it must be fitted with a reliable launch escape system to separate the spacecraft and its astronaut from its launch vehicle in case of impending failure; the pilot must have been given the capability of manually controlling the attitude of the spacecraft; the spacecraft must carry a retro-rocket system capable of reliably providing the necessary impulse to bring the spacecraft out of orbit; a zero-lift body utilizing drag braking to be used for reentry; and that the spacecraft design must satisfy the requirements for a landing on water.
Read more about this topic: Project Mercury
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