John Glenn

By: Heidi Considine

Historic Flight: First American to Orbit Earth

On February 20, 1962, John Glenn launched off from Cape Canaveral, Florida at 9:47 a.m. to begin the flight he's famous for. Glenn became the first American to orbit Earth on that ground breaking day. Hunkered down in his Mercury 6 Friendship 7 ship, he was able to orbit Earth 3 times in just four hours and fifty-five minutes. During his trip, he had some trouble with his heat shield not being on properly, so he had to control the ship manually part of the time, making him the first astronaut to control a ship manually. Glenn's flight did not only set USA records, but it lifted the spirits of the Americans after lagging behind in the Space Race against the Soviet Union.

Early Life

John Herschel Glenn Jr. was born on July 18, 1921 in Cambridge, Ohio to John and Clara Glenn. At age two, they moved to New Concord, Ohio because of a plumbing job for his dad, which is where John then grew up. Ever since he was young, he was fascinated with science. When college came around, he decided to attend Muskingum College. His junior year at that college, he left to be a U.S. marine Corps pilot in World War II where he completed 59 combat missions. Then he was in the Korean War where he completed 63 missions. After those wars were over, he went back to college in Maryland to earn his bachelor degree in chemistry due to his love for science and married his high school sweetheart, Anna Castor. They later had two kids named John David and Carolyn Ann. Soon after getting his degree, he joined the Naval Air Test Center's staff of expert flyers. There he made history by flying from Los Angeles to New York City in just three hours and twenty three minutes. It was also in that program where he was chosen to make the orbital flight around Earth.

What did Glenn do after his historic flight?

Glenn resigned in January of 1964 from the astronaut program. He became a colonel from 1964-1965. After trying a few times, he won the election to be senator of Ohio in 1974. He was asked to return to space in October of 1998, and he agreed, which made him the oldest person to go to space at age 77.

John Glenn's Historical Launch

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