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First American in Orbit

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First American in Orbit was John Glenn. He was launched in February 20 1962 in the Friendship7 spacecraft. 

First American in Orbit

Fifty years after John Glenn became the first American to orbit Earth, NASA no longer has the ability to fly astronauts in space, a decision Glenn lays squarely on the shoulders of the Bush administration.

Glenn's groundbreaking flight on Feb. 20, 1962, put the United States into a heated space race with the Soviet Union, which had launched cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin into orbit 10 months earlier.

The retirement of the shuttles in 2011 left the United States dependent on its former Cold War foe to get astronauts to and from the jointly owned International Space Station, which flies about 240 miles (385 km) above the planet.

50 Years in Space Anniversary

NASA’s celebration of Glenn’s three-orbit, five-hour flight aboard the Friendship 7 capsule began Friday 17 Februaryd 2012 at Cape Canaveral.

The festivities move to Columbus, Ohio, Monday, the actual anniversary. Glenn was honored at a gala at Ohio State University; the school of public affairs bears his name.

His wife of 68 years, Annie, now 92 and their two children are accompanied him to all the festivities.

Glenn served in the U.S. Senate for 24 years, representing his home state of Ohio. He ran unsuccessfully for president in 1984. He returned to space in 1998 aboard shuttle Discovery, becoming the oldest spaceman ever at age 77.

More than 1,000 people — including 200 Project Mercury veterans — gathered at Kennedy Space Center with legendary astronauts John Glenn and Scott Carpenter on Saturday to celebrate the golden anniversary of America's first two orbital human space expeditions.

Did you know?

* As of February 2012,  John Glenn and fellow astronaut Scott Carpenter, 86, are the lone survivors of NASA’s original Mercury 7 astronauts.

* Oldest person to fly in space, at age 77 aboard the shuttle Discovery in 1998. U.S. senator for four terms and one-time presidential candidate. Namesake of a NASA center as well as a university's school of public affairs.

This was the first spacecraft in space. It was the USA's competitor - the Soviet Union.


Cold War Anxiety: The first human made object is put into orbit around earth (Picture 19 Feb 2012).

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Updated: Tuesday 1st, April, 2014

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