Fifty years ago today, astronaut John Glenn made history by boarding a Mercury space capsule and becoming the first American to orbit the earth. The Friendship 7 made three orbits around the earth in a little less than five hours and was moving at speeds around 17,000 miles per hour (top that, Doc Brown). As if that wasn't a fever-inducing dose of awesome, due to a problem with the yaw attitude jet that controlled the module's heading, Glenn had to manually pilot the ship during the second and third orbits.
@glennschool, the official Twitter account of the John Glenn School of Public Affairs, is live-tweeting the event retroactively today, recounting the events of the lift-off as they really happened minute-by-minute this morning fifty years ago. For those interested, you can follow the hashtag #GlenninSpace for updates. Here's how the lift-off has looked so far:
Fifty years later, and even on Twitter, it's nearly impossible to read the communication between Glenn and Cape Canaveral and not become overwhelmed with the chill of excitement. The retroactive live-tweets will continue today through 3PM.
In case you overlooked it in the tweets from @glennschool, here's the original NASA footage of Glenn leaving earth for bluer skies (if you wanna get to the meat of it, skip to around the 25 minute mark for the countdown):
Throughout the morning, "John Glenn" was trending on Twitter in the United States as people expressed their awe and admiration of Glenn as well as sharing their favorite links and memories about the mission.
Favorite John Glenn story is still him at a Wendy Kopp talk in '02. He and his wife were invited on stage. He hopped the steps to the stage.
http://t.co/JRKb8JmV We don't do bold things like that any more.Today is 50th anniversary of John Glenn's earth orbit flight
John Glenn should get more credit for winning the Cold War. "Don't make us send John Glenn over there" was a more credible threat than M.A.D
Feb 20, 1962: USA launches John Glenn into orbit. He followed Russian Dogs, GuineaPigs, Mice, a cosmonaut & an American chimp
John Glenn is a true American hero. Followed the Mercury program and cheered for all of them as a kid. NASA always sent great stuff.
@TomDignanSr I'll never forget that wild ride by John Glenn. Saw Friendship7 in Houston. Tiny little thing. Must have been claustrophobic.
50 years ago this minute, John Glenn, from Cambridge OH, blasted off in Friendship 7. Thanks to him and Annie for inspiring our country.
As a footnote, if you really want to feel the goosebumps as you read about John Glenn this morning and afternoon, go listen to Peter Schilling's 'Major Tom (Coming Home)' as you read those @glennschool tweets and watch the NASA footage. It's an exquisite combination.