Friendship 7 Anniversary
February 20, 2001
Summary authors & editors: Martin Ruzek
On this day in 1962, astronaut John Glenn became the first American to orbit the planet, following the paths of Soviet cosmonauts Yuri Gagarin and Gherman Titov. Glenn took this photo of Earth while piloting the 3000 pound "Friendship 7" Mercury spacecraft at an altitude of about 160 miles, completing 3 orbits with a mission duration of almost 5 hours. Thirty nine years later, American, Russian and other international partners are assembling a space station that will weigh more than a million pounds when complete in 2004, enabling permanent human observation from space of our home planet.