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John Glenn piloting Friendship 7.

John Glenn (1921-2016) was an astronaut most well known for becoming the first American to orbit the Earth. He was also a World War II fighter pilot, engineer, and US Senator for the state of Ohio.

Following the April 1961 Earth orbit of Russian cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin, Glenn's February 1962 flight โ€” dubbed Friendship 7 โ€” marked the third time an American would be launched into space when he circled the Earth three times in a Mercury spacecraft. Communication between Glenn and NASA's Mission Control became famous for Glenn's enthusiasm for the view and fascination with his weightlessness while piloting the craft. He later served as a Payload Specialist on board Space Shuttle Discovery in 1998 becoming the oldest person to fly in space at the age of 76.


  • Audio from Glenn's Friendship 7 flight was used as the soundtrack for a 1969 Sesame Street film that appears to depict a journey in space, but turns out to be close-up footage of fruit in a bowl (First: Episode 0019).
  • Archive footage of John Glenn appears in the direct-to-video Muppet production, Things That Fly.
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