July 20, 1999
— One day prior to the 38th anniversary of its launch, Liberty Bell 7 has been salvaged.
A team, assembled by the Discovery Channel and led by Curt Newport, successfully raised the lost space capsule out of the Atlantic Ocean at 2:15 a.m. ET today. A Kevlar cable and clamps (attached by robotic vessel) were used to lift the 7-foot spacecraft, the only one to be lost after a successful American mission.
Liberty Bell 7 sank to the ocean floor after carrying Virgil "Gus" Grissom on a 15-minute sub-orbital flight on July 21, 1961. On splashdown, explosive bolts blew the hatch prematurely, allowing ocean water to flood the crew cabin.
Initial exploration inside the capsule has uncovered dimes flown as souvenirs, as well as a sought-after camera with film from the mission. Unfortunately, the condition of the latter may prevent the photographs from being developed.
Liberty Bell 7 is now heading to the Kansas Cosmosphere and Space Center for restoration and display.