Friendship 7 being lifted from the ocean after splashdown. (NASA)

Glenn being lowered from the Marine helicopter that retrieved his capsule. (NASA)

Friendship 7 plunges through the atmosphere. The retro-pack catches fire. A strap swings around and hits the window. Glenn reports, "That's a real fireball outside." Burning chunks of something fly past. The heat shield, he wonders? The fireball silences the radio. Glenn has to sweat out re-entry alone.

Then, finally, he sees blue sky! The radio works again and Mission Control asks how he is doing. "Oh, pretty good," Glenn reports. But he's out of fuel. The capsule rocks madly as it falls toward Earth. If the capsule flips over, the parachute won't work. Glenn is about to deploy it himself when it pops out automatically.

Friendship 7 splashes down in the Atlantic Ocean. John Glenn has orbited Earth and made Americans proud.

Glenn's capsule is lifted aboard a recovery ship. The hatch is hot for Glenn to touch, even with gloves on. He decides to blast it open. Eager hands help him out. The hero's first words are: "It was hot in there."

In 1962, the world did not have live satellite news on TV. How do you think Glenn's flight would have been different if the American people had been aware of the danger during his re-entry?