92-Foot-Tall Mercury Redstone Rocket Replica
Concord, New Hampshire
Alan Shepard, the first free man into outer space, was a native of New Hampshire. For some reason the state failed to acknowledge that -- at least as a tourist attraction -- until 2009, when it erected a life-size, perfect replica of the Redstone rocket that launched Shepard skyward in 1961. Explanatory signs around the rocket reveal that the Redstone was in fact just a nuclear ballistic missile with a space capsule stuck on top. Shepard was a brave man, and a little nuts.
The rocket stands in front of the McAuliffe-Shepard Discovery Center, an upscale planetarium. There's a little bronze bust of Shepard on the admission desk, but that's the extent of his personal glorification -- which is as it should be. The rocket really was the star of those early Mercury flights.
The McAuliffe-Shepard Discovery Center is co-named for Christa McAuliffe, New Hampshire's other famous astronaut. Unfortunately, through no fault of Christa's, her spacecraft didn't perform as well as Alan's.