Date of Milestone: February 20, 1962
Spacecraft: Mercury "Friendship 7"
Astronaut: John H. Glenn Jr.
Spacecraft Location: Smithsonian Institution, National Air and Space Museum, Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center, Mary Baker Engen Restoration Hangar
The Mercury spacecraft in which astronaut John H. Glenn Jr. became the first American to orbit the Earth. On February 20, 1962, Glenn circled the Earth three times. The space flight lasted 4 hours and 55 minutes. "Friendship 7" landed in the Atlantic Ocean.
The first person to travel in space, making one orbit on April 12, 1961, was Soviet cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin, followed in August by another cosmonaut Gherman S. Titov, who spent 17 orbits in space. Also in 1961, American astronauts Alan B. Shepard Jr. and Virgil I. Grissom achieved suborbital flights to altitudes above 160 kilometers (100 miles). Nevertheless, with this flight John Glenn became a national hero, and Americans gained confidence that they could compete successfully in space with the Soviet Union.
Transferred from the National Aeronautics and Space Administration.
Height: 2.7 m (9 ft)
Maximum Diameter: 1.9 m (6 ft 3 in)
Weight: 1,300 kg (2,900 lb)
Manufacturer: McDonnell Aircraft Corp. for NASA
Launch Vehicle: Atlas-D