The National Space Society salutes former astronaut and member of the NSS Board of Governors, John Glenn, Jr., on the 50th anniversary of his historic flight as the first American to orbit the Earth. On February 20, 1962 Glenn boarded his Mercury spacecraft – dubbed Friendship 7, honoring his fellow “Mercury Seven” astronauts – and rocketed into space, further opening the new frontier.
Soaring on the call of “Godspeed, John Glenn” from mission control, Glenn orbited the Earth three times over the course of the five-hour mission. The flight was not without its problems, however, as Glenn addressed issues with his control and re-entry systems, which led flight controllers to believe the capsule’s heat shield and landing bag had moved to an unlocked position. Rather than risk a catastrophic event, the controllers ordered Glenn to leave the capsule’s retrorocket pack in place, a decision that resulted in a dramatically fiery, yet successful, re-entry.
“A true American hero, Glenn ushered in American orbital spaceflight 50 years ago and brought the U.S. into the space age in earnest,” said NSS Executive Director Paul E. Damphousse. “His service to this nation reminds us of the bravery, determination, and excitement needed to achieve these ambitious goals – we hope his example will serve to further motivate our progress in space.”
Following his years with NASA, Glenn went on to serve four terms as a United States Senator from the state of Ohio. In 1998 at age 77 he became the oldest person to travel to space as he joined the crew of STS-95 aboard the Space Shuttle Discovery for a nine-day mission, marking his second space flight.
“As a member of the NSS Board of Governors, we are proud to call John Glenn one of our own,” Damphousse said. “We expect to build upon his legacy as we advance our goals in space over the next 50 years.”
Feb. 16, 2012
WASHINGTON — Feb. 20 marks the 50th anniversary of the day in 1962 when U.S. Sen. John Glenn piloted his Friendship 7 spacecraft on the first U.S. orbital. In the next two weeks, NASA Television will broadcast a series of live events and special programming to commemorate 50 years of Americans in orbit, including the premiere of a new documentary and special interactive online features.
Here is a list of scheduled activities, all of which will be broadcast on NASA Television:
- Thursday, Feb. 16
- 8-8:30 p.m.: Premiere of “Friendship 7: 50th Anniversary of Americans in Orbit” on NASA TV, a documentary on Glenn’s historic mission featuring new interviews with Glenn and fellow Mercury astronaut Scott Carpenter.
- Friday, Feb. 17
- 10-11 a.m. EST: Glenn and Carpenter, the first two Americans to orbit Earth, will join NASA Administrator Charles Bolden and Kennedy Space Center Director Robert Cabana for a presentation about NASA’s past, present and future. The event is open to employees at the space center in Florida.
- 3-3:30 p.m. EST: Glenn and Carpenter will conduct a news conference in the Mercury Mission Control exhibit of the Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex.
- Saturday, Feb. 18
- 6:30 p.m. EST: Glenn and Carpenter will participate in “On the Shoulders of Giants,” a ceremony at the Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex honoring all who made NASA’s Project Mercury possible. The program will include remarks from Cabana, Sen. Bill Nelson (D-Fla.) and astronaut Steve Robinson, who flew with Glenn on his second trip into orbit on space shuttle Discovery’s STS-95 mission in 1998.
- Monday, Feb. 20
- 1:30-3:15 p.m. EST: Glenn and NASA Administrator Charles Bolden will speak live with the crew on board the International Space Station to kick off the agency’s two-day Future Forum at Ohio State University in Columbus. Glenn also will participate in a panel session, “Learning from the Past to Innovate for the Future,” at the event.
- Tuesday, Feb. 21
- 3-3:15 p.m. EST: Glenn will deliver closing remarks at the NASA Future Forum.
- Friday, March 2
- 1-2 p.m. EST: Glenn will deliver the keynote address at “Celebrating John Glenn’s Legacy: 50 Years of Americans in Orbit” a special event hosted by NASA’s Glenn Research Center at Cleveland State University’s Wolstein Center, 2000 Prospect Ave., in Cleveland. The tribute will be included in a Tweetup which the research center is hosting for its Twitter followers on the same day.
An interactive online feature about the Mercury program and Glenn’s flight is available on the agency’s Internet homepage at:
For NASA TV downlink, schedule and streaming video information, visit:
The last week of January includes an annual observance to remember those who lost their lives in pursuing a goal of human spaceflight.
President Obama said on January 26: “It is important to remember that pushing the boundaries of space requires great courage and has come with a steep price three times in our Nation’s history – for the crews of Apollo 1 and the space shuttles Challenger and Columbia. The loss of these pioneers is felt every day by their family, friends, and colleagues, but we take comfort in the knowledge that their spirit will continue to inspire us to new heights.
“Today, our Nation is pursuing an ambitious path that honors these heroes, builds on their sacrifices, and promises to expand the limits of innovation as we venture farther into space than we have ever gone before. The men and women who lost their lives in the name of space exploration helped get us to this day, and it is our duty to honor them the way they would have wanted to be honored – by focusing our sights on the next horizon.”
On Thursday, Charlie Bolden, NASA Administrator laid a wreath at Arlington Cemetery and said, “This last week of January, as we do every year, the NASA family honors those who have lost their lives carrying out our missions and pays tribute to their lives and memories.
“So on this Day of Remembrance, we honor the Apollo 1, Challenger and Columbia crews, as well as other members of the NASA family who died supporting NASA’s mission of exploration. We thank them and their families for their extraordinary sacrifices in the service of our nation.”
WASHINGTON — News media representatives are invited to attend a public announcement of NASA’s process for selecting its next class of astronauts. The event starts at 1 p.m. EST on Tuesday, Nov. 15, in the Webb auditorium at NASA Headquarters in Washington. NASA Television and the agency’s website will broadcast the event live.
NASA Administrator Charles F. Bolden, Assistant Administrator for Human Capital Jeri Buchholz, Flight Crew Operations Director Janet Kavandi and five members of the recently graduated 2009 astronaut class will participate in the announcement. They are Serena Aunon, Kjell Lindgren, Kathleen Rubins, Scott Tingle and Mark Vande Hei.
NASA will recruit its next astronaut class through the federal government’s USAJobs.gov website.
The class of 2009 was the first astronaut class to graduate in a new era of space flight following the final mission of the space shuttle.
A new fleet of human spacecraft is in development by commercial companies to deliver crews to the International Space Station. NASA also is developing spacecraft to send humans on missions of exploration far away from our planet.
These new astronauts will advance research aboard the space station to benefit life on Earth and develop the knowledge and skills needed for longer flights to explore the solar system.
For biographical information and other astronaut information, visit:
For more information about the International Space Station, visit:
For more information about NASA’s next generation of spacecraft, visit:
For NASA TV streaming video, downlink and scheduling information, visit:
NSS congratulates Astronaut/Lt. Gen. Thomas Patten Stafford (USAF, Retired), who will be awarded the National Aeronautic Association’s prestigious 2011 Wright Brothers Memorial Trophy on December 16, 2011. This trophy honors the memory of Orville and Wilbur Wright, and is awarded annually to a living American for “significant public service of enduring value to aviation in the United States.” Stafford flew four missions (two Gemini missions, Apollo 10, and Apollo-Soyuz) and headed the 1991 Presidential “Stafford” Commission which produced the report “America at the Threshold” exploring alternative architectures for the Space Exploration Initiative. More information on this NAA award.
HOUSTON — In early November, NASA will seek applicants for its next class of astronaut candidates who will support long-duration missions to the International Space Station and future deep space exploration activities.
“For scientists, engineers and other professionals who have always dreamed of experiencing spaceflight, this is an exciting time to join the astronaut corps,” said Janet Kavandi, director of flight crew operations at the Johnson Space Center in Houston. “This next class will support missions to the station and will arrive via transportation systems now in development. They also will have the opportunity to participate in NASA’s continuing exploration programs that will include missions beyond low Earth orbit.”
A bachelor’s degree in engineering, science or math and three years of relevant professional experience are required in order to be considered. Typically, successful applicants have significant qualifications in engineering or science, or extensive experience flying high-performance jet-aircraft.
After applicant interviews and evaluations, NASA expects to announce the final selections in 2013, and training to begin that August.
Additional information about the Astronaut Candidate Program is available by calling the Astronaut Selection Office at 281-483-5907 or by visiting astronauts.nasa.gov.
Official landing times:
Mission Elapsed Times (MET):
Main Gear Touchdown: MET 12/18:27:56 – 9:57:00 am UTC
Nose Gear Touchdown: MET 12/18:28:16 – 9:57:20 am UTC
Wheel Stop: MET 12/18:28:50 – 9:57:54 am UTC
High resolution images of Atlantis are now on nasa.gov.