(AP) -- More than 600 people marked the exact moment when the first American rocketed into space 50 years ago.
Thursday's ceremony took place at the spot where Mercury astronaut Alan Shepard blasted off on a 15-minute suborbital flight on May 5, 1961.
The crowd at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station included Shepard's three daughters, about 100 Project Mercury workers and one of the two surviving Mercury seven astronauts, Scott Carpenter. They listened to a recording of Shepard's journey, timed to the second of his launch at 9:34 a.m.
Shepard was the second man in space. Soviet cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin beat him into space by less than a month.
Shepard later became the fifth man to walk on the moon. He died in 1998 at age 74.
Explore further: SDO captures images of two mid-level flares
More information: NASA: http://www.nasa.gov/50th