USA celebrate 50 years from their first flight to Earth’s orbit. The flight of John Glenn on Feb. 20, 1962 was a challenge test for the spacecraft. As you know John Glenn was the first American to orbit the Earth. After his retirement from NASA he became a U.S. senator and in 1998 he became the world’s oldest spaceman. During the Cold War John Glenn’s act was a huge political triumph for all Americans.
Visit the Kennedy Space Center
For those of you who are interested in Space or are planning trips to Orlando, FL there is a great opportunity to visit the Kennedy Space Center. All you need to do is to find friendly local company to provide you Orlando to Port Canaveral transportation. At the space center you will find out interesting facts from the history of the USA space program as well as you can see and take a picture of the aircrafts used for the space expeditions.
The Space Program Timeline
The space program started in 1958 and launched the human space exploration with missions planned to discover whether a human being could survive in space. Astronaut Alan Shepard piloted a 15-minute Project Mercury suborbital flight in the Freedom 7 spacecraft on May 5, 1961 to become the first American in space. John Glenn became the first American to orbit the Earth, aboard Friendship 7 on February 20, 1962, on the Mercury-Atlas 6 mission, circling the globe three times during a flight lasting 4 hours, 55 minutes, and 23 seconds. In 1943 he was assigned to the United States Marine Corps and flew 59 combat missions over the Marshall Islands as a F4U Corsair pilot. After the World War II he was transferred to Guam. Glenn was next assigned to VMF-311, flying the new F9F Panther jet interceptor. He flew his Panther in 63 combat missions during the Korean War. Glenn flew a second Korean combat tour on an interservice exchange program with the United States Air Force. He logged 27 missions in the faster F-86F Sabre and shot down three MiG-15s. He was assigned to NASA as one of the original group of seven astronauts chosen for Project Mercury.
The Mercurian Project
The Mercury spacecraft, named Friendship 7 and piloted by John Glenn, was carried to orbit by an Atlas LV-3B launch vehicle lifting off from Launch Complex 14 at Cape Canaveral, Florida. It made three orbits of the Earth and after four hours and 56 minutes in flight the spacecraft re-entered the Earth’s atmosphere, splashed down in the Atlantic Ocean and was safely taken aboard the USS Noa. Glenn’s mission, finished almost an year after the flight of Yuri Gagarin around the Earth, made USA more confident in taking back the lead of conquest the space and turned him into a national hero. John Glenn resigned from NASA in 1964 because he got refusal to fly again. Later he found out that responsible for this is John Kennedy – the president of United States – who was uneasy of unforeseen circumstances during the second flight.
The Oldest Man in Space
In 1998 Glenn flew for a second time as a crew member of the Space Shuttle Discovery. Back then at age 77 he took a part in scientific experiment about aging in space performed by National Institutes of Health.
Fifty years after his legendary flight 90-year-old Glenn feels bitterness of the USA decision from last year to stop the shuttles completely. Now Washington is relying on the Russians to transport American astronauts to and from the International Space Station at 385 km height. Glenn blames George W.Bush, Jr. and his administration for space projects crisis. „We spent over $100 billion dollars putting the space station up there. It’s too bad in the previous administration the decision was made to end the shuttle, so now we have to go somewhere else to even get up to our station “, said Glenn.
The Space Program Nowadays
United States Space Command wanted 830 million $ more for the budget year, starting at Oct. 1, 2012, so it could continue the cooperation with the private companies, which have to develop a substitute of the shuttles in 5 years. The American company Space X will achieve experimental flight with its spacecraft, named Dragon, after Mar. 20.
Scott Carpenter was the second American to orbit the Earth on May 24, 1962. He flew with Mercury capsule too. Carpenter regrets that USA lost their determination in this direction when China got ambitious space program and wants to send people to the Moon.
After Glenn’s and Carpenter’s missions there were two more with Mercury spacecrafts. They cleared the way for Project Gemini and set the aim for sending people to the Moon.