Tags: cosmonaut | gagarin | mission | moon

58 Yrs. Ago John Glenn Was First American to Orbit Earth

former us astronaut and us senator john glenn as he appeared in cleveland ohio
John Glenn at a political stop in 1992, in Cleveland, Ohio. (Joe Sohm/Dreamstime)

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Thursday, 20 February 2020 03:49 PM Current | Bio | Archive

February 20, 2020: Fifty-eight (58) years ago today — on Feb. 20, 1962 — John Glenn became the first American to orbit the earth. Glenn orbited the earth three times in his Mercury capsule known as Friendship 7.

The entire flight lasted just under five hours.[1]

That launch was a significant moment in the Cold War between the United States and the Soviet Union. Many Americans were concerned because the Soviets appeared to be ahead in the space race. They had launched the world’s first orbiting spacecraft (Sputnik) in 1957.[1] NASA—the U.S. space agency—wasn’t even created until a year after Sputnik.[2]

Then, in April 1961, Soviet cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin became the first man to orbit the earth.[2] It took ten months before the United States could match that feat with Glenn’s journey around the globe.

In retrospect, it remains stunning to realize that the U.S. was able to successfully land two men on the moon less than eight years after Glenn’s historic flight into space.

In One Giant Leap: The Impossible Mission That Flew Us to the Moon, Charles Fishman recounts just how all-encompassing an effort was required to put men on the moon. And, he shows the tremendous impact that effort had in creating today’s digital era.[3]

Each weekday, Scott Rasmussen’s Number of the Day explores interesting and newsworthy topics at the intersection of culture, politics, and technology. Columns published on Ballotpedia reflect the views of the author. Scott Rasmussen’s Number of the Day is published by Ballotpedia weekdays at 9:00 a.m. Eastern. Columns published on Ballotpedia reflect the views of the author.

Footnotes:

  1. On This Day, "John Glenn Orbits Earth," accessed Februrary 19, 2020
  2. NASA History Division, "The Friendship 7 Mission: A Major Achievement and a Sign of More to Come," accessed Februrary 19, 2020
  3. Fishman, Charles. (2019). One Giant Leap: The Impossible Mission That Flew Us to the Moon. New York, NY: Simon & Schuster.

Each weekday, Scott Rasmussen's Number of the Day explores interesting and newsworthy topics at the intersection of culture, politics, and technology. Columns published on Ballotpedia reflect the views of the author. Scott Rasmussen’s Number of the Day is published by Ballotpedia weekdays at 9:00 a.m. Eastern. Columns published on Ballotpedia reflect the views of the author. Scott Rasmussen is founder and president of the Rasmussen Media Group. He is the author of "Mad as Hell: How the Tea Party Movement Is Fundamentally Remaking Our Two-Party System," "In Search of Self-Governance," and "The People’s Money: How Voters Will Balance the Budget and Eliminate the Federal Debt." Read more reports from Scott Rasmussen — Click Here Now.

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In retrospect, it remains stunning to realize that the U.S. was able to successfully land two men on the moon less than eight years after Glenn’s historic flight into space.
cosmonaut, gagarin, mission, moon
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2020-49-20
Thursday, 20 February 2020 03:49 PM
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