February 20, 1962 — John Glenn became the first American to orbit the Earth, aboard the Friendship 7 Mercury capsule.

John Glenn enters his Friendship 7 capsule

Project Mercury astronaut John H. Glenn, Jr. enters his Mercury Friendship 7 capsule before launch on February 20, 1962. At 9:47 a.m. (EST), his Atlas launch vehicle lifted him into orbit for his flight lasting 4 hours, 55 minutes and 23 seconds. Onboard Friendship 7, Glenn became the first American to orbit the Earth, and the third American to fly in space. A faulty signal indicating a problem with the heat shield forced NASA mission controllers to cut the flight to only three orbits, but Glenn returned to Earth safely. — –NASA on the Commons Photo

John Glenn OK

Astronaut John Glenn and technicians inspect artwork that will be painted on the outside of his Mercury spacecraft. John Glenn nicknamed his capsule “Friendship 7”. On February 20, 1962 astronaut John H. Glenn Jr. lifted off into space aboard his Mercury Atlas (MA-6) rocket and became the first American to orbit the Earth. After orbiting the Earth 3 times, Friendship 7 landed in the Atlantic Ocean 4 hours, 55 minutes and 23 seconds later, just East of Grand Turk Island in the Bahamas. Glenn and his capsule were recovered by the Navy Destroyer Noa, 21 minutes after splashdown. –NASA on the Commons Photo

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