On May 15, 1963, NASA astronaut Gordon Cooper was launched into space on the sixth and final manned flight of the Mercury program.
This was the last time a NASA astronaut was launched on a solo mission.
Cooper took off from Cape Canaveral on an Atlas rocket. He boarded a capsule called Faith 7, which he guided for 22 orbits around the Earth.
The entire mission lasted 34 hours and 20 minutes and was the longest flyby of the Mercury program. Cooper conducted eleven experiments in orbit. One of them involved deploying a flashing ball in space and tracking it. He was also the first person to sleep in space.
When it was time to go home, Faith 7 started having problems. The spacecraft started reading the wrong information, and NASA realized that the autopilot system could no longer be trusted. Therefore, Cooper had to take control of the craft himself and bring it back to Earth manually.
Cooper later served as command pilot of Jumnai 5 on an eight-day endurance mission in August 1965, becoming the first person to complete two orbital flights.