John Glenn Became The First American To Circle The Earth's Orbit
FEBRUARY 20--Lieutenant Colonel John H. Glenn. USMC, in Mercury spacecraft Friendship 7, was launched from Cape Canaveral by an Atlas rocket. His three turns about the earth were the first U.S. manned orbital flights. He was recovered some 166 miles east of Grand Turk Island in the Bahamas by the destroyer Noa (DD 841) and then delivered by helicopter to the carrier Randolph.
Despite some problems with spacecraft 7 Glenn 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 & frac 34; this flight was enormously successful.
The public, more than celebrating the technological success, embraced Glenn as a personification of heroism and dignity. Among other engagements, Glenn addressed a joint session of Congress and participated in several ticker-tape parades around the country.
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