50th Anniversary of the first NASA astronaut to orbit Earth

The 20th February 2012 marks the 50th anniversary of the first orbital flight for NASA astronaut, John Glenn, on board the Mercury 6 mission. The flight came less than a year after the USSR milestone of the first human in space (Yuri Gagarin, 12/04/1961) and the first NASA sub-orbital space flight (Alan Shepherd, 05/05/1961). Following a successful launch from Cape Canaveral, Glenn orbited the Earth three times during a flight that lasted 88 minutes and 29 seconds.

Image of NASA astronaut John Glenn getting into the Mercury 6 capsule
Credit: NASA

In total he travelled around 121,793 km (75,679 miles) and reached a top speed of 28,234 km/h (17,544 mph) before splashing back down into the Atlantic Ocean. In celebration of the anniversary, NASA have created the following 25 minute video that provides more information about the mission.