Fifty years ago, on February 20, 1962, John Glenn became the first American to orbit Earth. Milan Halousek of the Czech Space Office will discuss what preceded John Glenn's journey, what lessons did NASA learn from his flight, and why John Glenn decided to return to orbit again 36 years later.
Before John Glenn, space rockets Mercury enabled a few-minute space trip for Ham the chimpanzee and astronauts Alan Shepard and Virgil Grissom. Glenn thus Glenn became a national hero as the first American and third person to orbit Earth. Launched from Cape Canaveral, Florida, he rode inside a capsule named Friendship 7, successfully circling the globe three times and completing his flight in 4 hours 55 minutes 23 seconds. He reached a then-amazing speed near 17,500 mph. Four million spectators lined the streets of Manhattan nine days later to give him a hero's welcome. This was the beginning of a journey, which culminated by the landing on the Moon in 1969.