In Photos: How John Glenn Made History on 1st US Orbital Flight Mercury-Atlas 6

The Original Mission Control


During the Mercury-Atlas 6 mission, John Glenn and the Friendship 7 spacecraft are tracked all around the Earth from the Mission Control Room at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida.

First American in Space


As astronaut John Glenn orbits Earth, an onboard camera inside the Friendship 7 spacecraft captured this image of the astronaut during his initial orbital flight.

Mission Success!!


John Glenn splashed down inside the Friendship 7 Spacecraft around 800 miles (1,300 km) southeast of Cape Canaveral near Grand Turk Island. Glenn was recovered a by a helicopter from the USS Noa. He was aboard the recovery vessel just 21 minutes after splashdown. Glenn was later transferred to the USS Randolph.

Recovering Friendship


Following a successful mission and splashdown, the Friendship 7 spacecraft, connected to a retrieval cable, bobs in the Atlantic Ocean.

Examine Orbital Effects


Department of Defense recovery personnel and spacecraft technicians from NASA examine the Friendship 7 spacecraft after the flight.

Presidential Touch


On Feb. 23, 1962, President John F. Kennedy honored astronaut John Glenn at the NASA facility in Cape Canaveral, Florida, following the historical first crewed orbital flight for the U.S.

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Christine Lunsford
Producer and Contributing Writer

Christine Lunsford joined the team in 2010 as a freelance producer and later became a contributing writer, covering astrophotography images, astronomy photos and amazing space galleries and more. During her more than 10 years with, oversaw the site's monthly skywatching updates and produced overnight features and stories on the latest space discoveries. She enjoys learning about subjects of all kinds.