John Glenn boards Friendship 7 before the flight. (NASA)
Glenn inside the Friendship 7 capsule. (NASA)
Glenn rides an elevator up to his capsule. His family decides to name it Friendship 7. Afterwards Glenn says, "Flying around the world, over all those countries, [friendship] was the message I wanted to convey."
While closing the capsule hatch, a bolt breaks. Then fuel is needed; a valve sticks; a tracking station goes down. Glenn waits inside a cabin so small, he can barely move. Over 100 million people sit in front of their televisions, waiting. With his periscope, Glenn can see thousands parked along the Florida beaches. Many have been there since January, creating trailer towns complete with mayors.
A roar of flame at 9:47 a.m. ends the wait. In one minute, the engines burn more fuel than a jet flight from New York to Los Angeles. The boosters cut off, and Glenn watches the rocket fall away. He is in orbit!
Mercury astronauts named their capsules. Shepard's capsule was
Freedom 7 and Grissom's was Liberty Bell 7. Glenn chose
Friendship 7 with the help of his children. What name would
you chose for your own first spaceship?