Collection Item Summary:
These pliers were carried as part of the cockpit equipment of Friendship 7, the Mercury capsule in which John H. Glenn became the first American to orbit the Earth. Glenn's flight was the third manned mission of Project Mercury, following two suborbital flights by astronauts in 1961. Glenn's three-orbit mission on February 20, 1962, was a sterling success, as he overcame problems with the automatic control system that would have ended an unmanned flight. But reentry was tense, as a faulty telemetry signal from the spacecraft indicated that the heat shield might be loose. Glenn reentered successfully and splashed down in the Atlantic 4 hours, 55 minutes and 23 seconds after launch.
These pliers were carried in the cockpit in case Glenn might have to make emergency repairs. In 1962, NASA transferred Friendship 7 to the Smithsonian Institution, along with a number of astronaut and cockpit items.