Home Science Space February 20, 1962-2012: Fifty years for astronaut John Glenn

Monday, February 20, 2012 marks the fiftieth anniversary of U.S. astronaut John Glenn's historical flight to become the first American to orbit the Earth.

NASA astronaut John Glenn sat inside his Friendship 7 space capsule on February 20, 1962.

Glenn's mission was called Mercury-Atlas 6 (MA-6). He sat inside the confines of a capsule with a gigantic rocket underneath. The rocket was designated the Atlas Launch Vehicle 3B (Atlas LV-3B).

Position on launch complex 14 (LC-14) at the Cape Canaveral Air Force Station (in Florida), Glenn was launched toward space at 14:47:39 Greenwich Mean Time (GMT).

The spacecraft, guided by pilot Glenn, completed three orbits of the Earth; thus, becoming the first American to orbit the Earth.

The mission lasted four hours, 55 minutes, 23 seconds. Glenn landed in the Atlantic Ocean at 19:43:02 GMT, that same day, being taken aboard the U.S.S. Noa.

The historic event was named, in 2011, an Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) Milestone.

Titled 'Milestones:Mercury Spacecraft MA-6, 1962,' the IEEE accomplishment is summarized with:

'Col. John Glenn piloted the Mercury Friendship 7 spacecraft in the first United States human-orbital flight on 20 February 1962. Electrical and electronic systems invented by McDonnell Aircraft engineers, including IRE members, made his and future spaceflights possible. Among the key contributions were navigation and control instruments, autopilot, rate stabilization and control, and fly-by-wire (FBW) systems.'

Page two continues with remarks by John Glenn on the 50th anniversary of his first flight into space.


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William Atkins

William Atkins completed educational degrees in science (bachelor’s in physics and mathematics) from Illinois State University (Normal, United States) and business (master’s in entrepreneurship and bachelor’s in industrial relations) from Western Illinois University