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Liberty Bell 7

Gus Grissom, July 21, 1961

What's in a name?

Gus Grissom chose the name Liberty Bell because the capsule was shaped like a bell and because it carried stirring American connotations so important during the early days of the American space program.

From: "All we did was fly to the moon"

..."John Glenn felt that the symbolic number "7" should appear on all our capsules in honor of the team, so this was added. Then one of the engineers got the bright idea that we ought to dress Liberty Bell up by painting a crack on it just like the crack on the real one. No one seemed quite sure what the crack looked like, so we copied it from the "tails" side of a fifty-cents piece. Ever since my flight, which ended up with the capsule sinking to the bottom of the Atlantic, there has been a joke around the Cape that that was the last capsule we would ever launch with a crack in it"...

From: "We Seven"

The Artwork

Like Al Shepard's Freedom 7, not much creativity went into the logo for Liberty Bell 7. Chrysler-employee Cecelia Bibby, who did the artwork for Glenn, Carpenter and Schirra:

"Al's Freedom 7 and Gus' Liberty Bell 7 were put on the craft by stencil. I don't know who cut the stencils although I heard it was one of the mechanics who taped the stencil to the craft and spray painted the name. The stencil was done in block letters."

Bibby about the crack:

"I don't know who painted the crack on Liberty Bell. Everyone kept quiet about that but I figure it was one of the technicians... either a NASA or McDonnell tech. However, a year or so ago, John Glenn was at a book signing in Kentucky and someone asked him who had painted that crack on Gus' capsule. The person who asked that later contacted me and said that John just grinned at him and said that it was probably Cece Bibby who did that. I promise, I didn't have anything to do with that."

Correspondence with Cece Bibby, November 2001

The Real Thing

Gus Grissom posing with the Liberty Bell 7 logo and the crack; Grissom assisted into his spacecraft by John Glenn; McDonnell pad leader Guenther Wendt after protective tape/plastic has been removed from the logo and the panel after it was recovered from the ocean floor on July 20, 1999. Since Grissom's ballistic flight only lasted 15 minutes and did not have a real re-entry, the logo survived the mission reasonably well. What is remarkable, though, is that it also survived 38 years of marine life.


The souvenir patch and a medallion flown aboard the capsule. Cece Bibby, who would later arrange engraved golden medallions for Glenn, Carpenter and Schirra to take on their missions:

"I think these charms might have been the precurors of the patches. People knew about the charms and wanted some memento of their own. Some enterprizing salesman probably approached someone at NASA and the patch idea was born."

Correspondence with Cece Bibby, November 2001

Freedom 7 | Friendship 7