Friendship 7
Friendship 7, on display at the National Air & Space Museum in Washington, D.C.

On this date 55 years ago, John Glenn became the first American to orbit the Earth, flying in his Mercury capsule named Friendship 7. I got to see this in person this past December at the National Air & Space Museum. I’d always read about how small they were, but you have to see it to believe it. This thing could easily fit in the back of most minivans! There was a largely unseen army of people supporting Glenn, but it still took a lot of guts to strap into this new vehicle and take it where no one had gone before.

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