The Historic Flight of Mercury 6

Yesterday, February 20th, marked the 49th anniversary of Astronaut John Glenn's historic 1962 flight aboard the NASA spacecraft Friendship 7 -- when he became the first American (and third human being) to orbit the Earth. After being postponed ten times, the launch finally boosted Glenn into space, where he made three successful orbits at 17,400 miles per hour, returning safely home to a national celebration. Decades later, in 1998, Glenn ventured into space one more time, at age 77 aboard the Space Shuttle Discovery, to study the effects of space flight on the elderly. Below are images gathered from NASA's early Mercury Project, which lead up to Glenn's famous journey.

Read more
Hints: View this page full screen. Skip to the next and previous photo by typing j/k or ←/→.

Most Recent

  • Stefano Mazzola / Awakening / Getty

    Photos of the Week: Merkel Diamond, Windy Fire, Pedal Cars

    Container ships anchored off the Port of Los Angeles, gunfire on the front line in Ukraine, citizen astronauts’ splashdown near Florida, a nudist grape harvest in Portugal, and much more

  • Brynn Anderson / AP

    A Sea of Flags: Commemorating More Than 675,000 Americans Lost to COVID-19

    Images of a temporary art installation made up of hundreds of thousands of small white flags representing Americans lost to COVID-19

  • Desiree Martin / AFP / Getty

    Photos: A Destructive Eruption on the Canary Islands

    More than 100 houses have been destroyed by a recent eruption on La Palma island.

  • Siphiwe Sibeko / Reuters

    Photos of the Week: Grenadier Guards, Floating Island, Wrapped Arch

    Flooding in southern France, cliff diving in Ireland, civilian astronauts’ launch from Florida, an elephant bath in Pakistan, scenes from the Met Gala in New York City, and much more