Tag Archives: Friendship 7

The Friendship 7 Mission’s secret stamp of approval

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Launch of the Friendship 7. Image: courtesy NASA

Fifty years ago, in the early hours of February 21, 1962 (Sydney time), NASA astronaut John Glenn became the first American to orbit the Earth, on board his Mercury spacecraft Friendship 7. Although two previous Mercury missions had flown brief sub-orbital flights, achieving orbit was an important goal for the US space program at that point in the Cold War contest of the Space Race. The Soviet Union had already launched two orbital missions in its Vostok program: the first had put Yuri Gagarin into orbit as the world’s first space traveller; the second had seen Cosmonaut Gherman Titov spend an entire day in space. To maintain credibility in the Space Race, America had to demonstrate that it, too, had the capability to put an astronaut into orbit.

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