Knoxville, Tennessee (JFK+50) Today we continue a review of the ten most popular posts of our JFK+50 blog since we began in November 2010. This review will include updates and revisions of the original posts.
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February 20, 2011, Cape Canaveral, Florida (JFK+50) With these words, United States astronaut, Lt.Col. John Glenn* of the United States Marine Corps, lifted off from the Space Center here at Cape Canaveral 49 years ago today to become America's first man to orbit the earth.
Colonel Glenn lifted off successfully aboard the Friendship 7 Mercury space capsule at 9:47 a.m. eastern time with 100,000 people watching on the ground and millions more on television.
Lt. Col. John Glenn
While his three orbits around the globe were not without some technical issues, Friendship 7 reentered the earth's atmosphere successfully and splashed down safely in the Atlantic Ocean where it was retrieved by a helicopter from the USS Noa.The flight lasted almost five hours.
John Glenn became the third man to orbit the earth. The first was Soviet cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin followed by his fellow cosmonaut Gherman Titov.
Glenn was also the third American astronaut to fly in space. He followed fellow Mercury astronauts Alan Shepard and Virgil "Gus" Grissom.
Launch of Friendship 7
The success of putting a man in orbit was a great step toward achieving President Kennedy's goal, set in 1961, of "landing a man on the moon and returning him safely to the earth" by the end of the decade.
The President visited Cape Canaveral on February 23, 1962 to pin a medal on John Glenn who later addressed Congress and was given a ticker tape parade.