February 20, 1963 – John Glenn became the first American to orbit the earth and the fifth man in space. His ship, the Friendship 7, circled the earth 3 times in 5 hours, 55 minutes and 23 seconds culminating Project Mercury (1959 – 1963) whose objective was to put a human in orbit around the earth.
Glen was a Marine Corp pilot and veteran of WWII and joined NASA as part of the original astronaut group in 1959. He resigned from NASA in January 1964 to pursue a political campaign, but was forced to resign from the campaign after suffering a concussion and damage to his inner ear. He was a confidant of the Kennedy family and was with Robert Kennedy’s entourage when he was assassinated in 1968. He was elected to the US Senate from Ohio in 1974 and served there until 1999. On October 29, 1998 John Glen made his second space flight aboard the Space Shuttle Discovery as part of a study on the effects of space travel on the elderly. Today he is 90 and the last surviving member of the Mercury 7.