Photos: John Glenn, First American in Orbit

Godspeed, John Glenn


Editor's note: John Glenn, a legendary NASA astronaut and American hero, died on Dec. 8, 2016 at age 95. Read our full obituary here

John Glenn Enters Friendship 7


On Feb. 20, 1962, John Glenn rode the Friendship 7 capsule into space, the first time an American orbited the Earth. In this image, Glenn enters the capsule with assistance from technicians.

Glenn Suits-Up for Launch


Astronaut John H. Glenn Jr. dons his silver Mercury pressure suit in preparation for launch. On February 20, 1962 Glenn lifted off into space aboard his Mercury Atlas (MA-6) rocket and became the first American to orbit the Earth. After orbiting the Earth 3 times, Friendship 7 landed in the Atlantic Ocean 4 hours, 55 minutes and 23 seconds later, just East of Grand Turk Island in the Bahamas. Glenn and his capsule were recovered by the Navy Destroyer Noa, 21 minutes after splashdown.

Launch of Friendship 7


This image shows the launch of Friendship 7, the first American manned orbital space flight. With astronaut John Glenn aboard, the Mercury-Atlas rocket is launched from Pad 14, February 20, 1962.

50 Years After Original 7: New Astronauts Don't Need The Right Stuff


Project Mercury Astronauts, whose selection was announced on April 9, 1959. They are: front row, left to right, Walter H. Schirra, Jr., Donald K. Slayton, John H. Glenn, Jr., and Scott Carpenter; back row, Alan B. Shepard, Jr., Virgil I. Gus Grissom, and L. Gordon Cooper.

Have a Good Trip


Fellow Mercury astronaut Gus Grissom (in suit) wishes Shepard good luck as he gets set to climb into his Mercury capsule, dubbed Freedom 7, on the morning of May 5, 1961. Glenn looks on in the background.

The Original Seven


Bearded, with makeshift clothing, the seven original Mercury astronauts participated in U.S. Air Force survival training at Stead Air Force Base in Nevada. Pictured in this 1960 photograph are (l to r): L. Gordon Cooper, M. Scott Carpenter, John Glenn, Alan Shepard, Virgil I. Grissom, Walter Schirra and Donald K. Slayton.

Looking Back on Friendship 7

John Glenn on Feb. 20, 2002 -- the 40th anniversary of his Project Mercury flight aboard Friendship 7.

John Glenn Calls Bush Space Vision an Unfunded Mandate

AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta

Former astronaut and retired Ohio Sen. John Glenn testifies on Capitol Hill in Washington before the House Science and Technology Committee hearing on NASA's past accomplishments, and future opportunities and challenges, marking 50th anniversary of NASA.

John Glenn, Oldest Astronaut


The seven crew members in training for the STS-95 mission aboard Discovery pose for photographers prior to participating in a training session at NASA's Johnson Space Center. Pictured, from the left, are Pedro Duque, Curtis Brown, Chiaki Nauto-Mukai, then-U.S. Sen. John H. Glenn Jr. (D.-Ohio), Stephen Robinson, Steven Lindsey and Scott Parazynski.

In the White Room with John Glenn


In the launch pad's White Room, STS-95 Payload Specialist John H. Glenn Jr., U.S. Senator from Ohio, has his flight suit checked by closeout crew members before climbing into space shuttle Discovery for his second flight into space, which came 36 years after his Mercury launch. Glenn was the first American to orbit the Earth. The image was taken Oct. 29, 1998.

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