John Glenn becomes the first American to orbit the earth
In 1959, Marine fighter pilot John Glenn (July 18, 1921-) was picked as one of the original seven astronauts for NASA’s Project Mercury program. On February 20, 1960, Glenn became the fifth person in space (in April, 1961 Russian cosmonaut Yuri Gargarin became the first man in space and the first to orbit the Earth), the third American in space and the first American to orbit the Earth. His space capsule Friendship 7 orbited the Earth three times in a flight that lasted almost 5 hours. As a result of his feat Glenn became a national hero, receiving a ticker tape parade in New York City and receiving the NASA service medal from Pres. Kennedy. Glenn left NASA six weeks after the Kennedy assassination to run for office, eventually serving four terms as senator from his home state Ohio. In Oct. 1998, at the age of 77, Glenn participated in a second space flight aboard the Space Shuttle Discovery.