Tag Archives: Mercury program

John Glenn – the first American in orbit

An evening pause: On the fiftieth anniversary of John Glenn’s orbital flight.

After putting a chimpanzee into orbit in November, NASA finally felt ready to send a man into orbit to answer the Soviets and their two manned orbital missions of Gagarin and Titov the previous year.

After Glenn’s mission and for the next few months, it looked like the U.S. was catching up with the Soviets in space. That would change before the year was summer was over.

The video below gives a nice summary of key moments in Glenn’s flight, though the special effects of the “fireflies” is poorly done. And we now know that the “fireflies” were nothing more than frozen particles of condensation coming off the capsule.