Launch of the Atlas rocket that carried astronaut John Glenn into orbit, 1962.
© National Aeronautics & Space Administration / Science & Society
The launch on 20th February 1962 of the mision that carried the Mercury Friendship 7 spacecraft with astronaut John Glenn on board into orbit, making him the first American to orbit the Earth. He completed three orbits of the Earth before splashing down in the Atlantic after a flight lasting 4 hours 55 minutes. Begun in 1958, Project Mercury was NASA's first manned spaceflight programme.