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On May 5, 1961, Alan Shepard piloted Freedom 7 into space, but not before he famously urged the ground crew “Why don’t you fellows solve your little problems and light this candle.”

But who did light that candle?

At the time Kurt Debus refused to name the individual because, as he rightly pointed out, they were a team, no one button was more important than another. But the guys at Air and Space have dug into that question, and in the process reunited some of the team with their buttons.

Give it a read, view the photos, and find out about the guys who fifty years ago gave Alan a chance to answer the prayer he muttered before take off, “Don’t fuck up, Shepard.”



(Image courtesy of Air and Space Magazine)

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