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The only source for genuine (full-scale) draw formed metal replicas of the Mercury spacecraft, Gemini capsule, and Mars Rover.


Andrea Novotny
Novotny Communications

(608) 575-7739






Tommy Bartlett Exploratory Adds Mercury Space Capsule

Replica; Spacecraft Carried America’s First Astronauts into Space



WISCONSIN DELLS, Wis. (March 1, 2008) – In an effort to continue highlighting the wonders and milestones of space exploration, the Tommy Bartlett Exploratory in Wisconsin Dells, Wis. has acquired a Mercury Space Capsule – the United State’s first manned spaceship.


This capsule is an exact replica and was constructed with NASA blueprints and specifications. The Mercury Spacecraft represents the historic Project Mercury and the United States’ first steps toward human space flight.


“The first efforts to put a human in space are among the most significant in our nation’s history and we are proud to add this Mercury Capsule to our permanent collection to help teach and preserve the legacy of these early space explorers,” said Tom Diehl, president Tommy Bartlett, Inc.


Tommy Bartlett’s new Mercury Space Capsule is expected to be open to the public in March 2008. It will be displayed in the building that also houses an Original Russian Space Station MIR Core Module that the company acquired in 1997. The area is dedicated to space exploration and also includes a replica of Sputnik I, the first satellite in space, as well as other space memorabilia and exhibits.


“Our Mercury Capsule will be displayed along with photos and a timeline of information on the Mercury Program,” Diehl said. “We want people to get up close to the compact pod to see exactly what stood between life and death for those courageous astronauts who climbed in and faced the unknown.”


The Mercury Space Capsule is only 6-feet 10-inches long and 6-feet 2½-inches in diameter. Its main function was to shield astronauts from the elements of space, particularly the extreme heat experienced during re-entry into the Earth’s atmosphere. The cramped, cone-shaped Mercury Capsule could carry only one man and featured a thick heat shield on the bottom of the craft that could withstand 3,000 degrees Fahrenheit upon re-entry. The capsule would fall to Earth, a parachute helping slow its speed before splashing down into the ocean where NASA scientists and the U.S. Navy would come to rescue its pilot.


The original group of astronauts chosen for the program were called the Mercury Seven and served with NASA on missions from 1958 to 1963. They included: Scott Carpenter; L. Gordon Cooper, Jr.; John H. Glenn, Jr.; Virgil I. "Gus" Grissom; Walter M. Schirra, Jr.; Alan B. Shepard, Jr.; and Donald K. "Deke" Slayton. There were 25 Mercury missions in all, six of them manned, the most famous of which was John Glenn’s first orbit of the Earth on February 20, 1962.


The Mercury Program and its original seven astronauts were chronicled in the book and movie “The Right Stuff.” Each of the Mercury Space Capsules was named by its astronaut pilot and was launched into space by a rocket. John Glenn named his capsule Friendship 7. Among the original Mercury Seven astronauts is Donald “Deke” Slayton, a native of Sparta, Wisconsin.


Although Slayton was grounded from Mercury flights due to a heart condition, he went on to work in NASA operations. In 1975, Slayton finally made his first space flight as part of the historic Apollo-Soyuz Test Project that marked the first meeting in space between American astronauts and Soviet cosmonauts. “The fact that one of the Mercury Seven astronauts grew up not far from Wisconsin Dells brings greater meaning to this display,” Diehl said. “We hope it provides inspiration for children to realize what is possible for their futures.”


Tommy Bartlett Exploratory is open daily, year-round and, in addition to the displays on space exploration, offers more than 150 hands-on activities that delve into science, virtual reality, technology and good old-fashioned brain-teaser fun. The Exploratory is open from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. during the summer and 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. during the fall, spring and winter. For more information, please call (608) 254-2525 or visit


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Tommy Bartlett Exploratory Adds Mercury Space Capsule Replica by Spacecraft Exhibits

Spacecraft Exhibits |  813.986.4001 | Thonotosassa, FL 33592 |

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