A complete set of official Mercury Mission patches.Project Mercury was the United States' first manned spaceflight program. It ran from 1959 through 1963 with the goal of putting a man in orbit around the Earth. Early planning and research was carried out by NACA, while the program was officially carried out by the newly created NASA. The name comes from Mercury, a Roman mythological god who is often seen as a symbol of speed. Mercury is also the name of the innermost planet of the solar system, which revolves around the sun faster than any other, hence the image of speed, although Project Mercury had no other connection to that planet.