Today in History... John Glenn goes into orbit

John H Glenn Jr grew up in Ohio, and gained a pilot's license whilst studying at college. His flying skills were called out during WW2, and he flew several combat missions in the Pacific, shooting down several MiGs before the end of the war.

He continued military service following the war, eventually earning the Distinguished Flying Cross. In 1959 he joined NASA, and was assigned to the original Mercury 7 team.

On February 20, 1962 he became the fifth person in space and the first American to orbit the Earth, aboard Friendship 7, circling the Earth three times in just under five hours.

He returned to Earth a national hero, and became a personal friend of John F Kennedy and his family.

Though Glenn left his life at NASA behind him long ago and becoming a Democratic senator, memorabilia associated with him and Mercury 7 continues to be valuable, as it is considered to be one of the most pioneering missions, save for the moonlandings.

Quincy Jones presents John Glenn and Neil Armstrong with copies of Fly Me to the Moon

For example, a lithograph of the Mercury spacecraft signed by Mercury astronauts brought $3,050 in July last year, even though Glenn's signature and some of the others were autopenned.

An excellent photograph of the Mercury 7 astronauts with a model rocket signed by six of them (plus an ink stamp from Alan Shepard) is currently available.


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