|Friendship 7 being launched|
February 20, 1962
The Russians were far ahead of us, sending first a dog, then a man (Yuri Gagarin) into space.
The U.S. had only managed two short 15 minutes suborbital flights.
Then, 50 years ago today, a young Marine Corps fighter pilot from Cambridge, Ohio, crawled into the tiny, cramped Mercury spacecraft dubbed Friendship 7. Transported into space atop an Atlas rocket launched from Cape Canaveral, Fla., Glenn circled the Earth three times, becoming the first American to orbit the planet.
That spaceflight, lasting a mere 4 hours, 55 minutes and 23 seconds drew America together with a common goal.
He was hero to everyone. He was the beginning our love for adventure beyond Earth's atmosphere.
I always had a love for the space program. I'm not really old enough to remember the Mercury flights, but my eyes were always glued to the TV for nearly every Apollo flight. I was sick with worry when Apollo 13 encountered a problems during their mission and there was a distinct possibility the crew might now return safely.
When the Apollo program ended, I continued to follow the NASA programs. Sadly, launching spacecrafts became routine and many of the news outlets didn't bother to interrupt their regular programming.
It was only after the first Shuttle disaster that we started paying attention again.
While John Glenn wasn't the only American Space Hero, he will remembered as the man who united us in a race for space.
Godspeed John Glenn!