February 21, 2008 — Vol. 1, Issue 2
This Month in NASA History
John Glenn Orbits the Earth
On February 20, 1962, John Glenn became the first American to circle the Earth from space, making three orbits in the Friendship 7 Mercury spacecraft.
Glenn encountered some technical difficulties while on orbit. He flew parts of the last two orbits manually because of an autopilot failure, and left his normally jettisoned retrorocket pack attached to his capsule during reentry because of a loose heat shield. In-flight difficulties aside, the successful mission captured the imagination of the American public, and Glenn was heralded as a hero. He addressed a joint session of Congress and participated in several ticker tape parades around the country.
Read more about John Glenn's historic flight.