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  • John Glenn - First American to Orbit the Earth | Biography Documentary | 1963

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    This film is a short biography of Astronaut John Glenn, the first American to orbit the Earth in 1962. It portrays Glenn's youth in New Concord, Ohio, his service as a Marine Corps fighter pilot in World War 2 and the Korean War, and highlights of his momentous adventure as the pilot of Friendship 7. The film is introduced by President John F. Kennedy and narrated by famous American actor Jack Webb (Dragnet's Detective Sergeant Joe Friday).

    The movie shows authentic footage of Glenn’s preparations for his space flight - three orbits around the Earth, and then home again. It shows interior shots aboard the Friendship 7 space capsule, and Glenn's comments as he works inside the capsule during this mission.

    The documentary was sponsored by the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) and was released in 1963 (before Glenn’s political career). It was definitely made to give a shot in the arm to NASA and to insure the continuing support of the American public during the Agency's shaky years in the 1960's.


    John Herschel Glenn Jr. (July 18, 1921 – December 8, 2016) was a United States Marine Corps aviator, engineer, astronaut, and United States Senator from Ohio. In 1962 he was the first American to orbit the Earth, circling it three times. Before joining NASA, Glenn was a distinguished fighter pilot in World War 2 and Korea with six Distinguished Flying Crosses and eighteen clusters on his Air Medal.

    He was one of the Mercury Seven, military test pilots selected in 1959 by NASA as the United States' first astronauts. On February 20, 1962, Glenn flew the Friendship 7 mission; the first American to orbit the Earth, he was the fifth person in space. He received the NASA Distinguished Service Medal, the Congressional Space Medal of Honor in 1978, was inducted into the U.S. Astronaut Hall of Fame in 1990, and was the last surviving member of the Mercury Seven.

    After Glenn resigned from NASA in 1964 and retired from the Marine Corps the following year, he planned to run for a U.S. Senate seat from Ohio. An injury in early 1964 forced his withdrawal, and he lost a close primary election in 1970. A member of the Democratic Party, Glenn first won election to the Senate in 1974 and served for 24 years until January 3, 1999.

    In 1998, still a sitting senator, Glenn was the oldest person to fly in space as a crew member of the Discovery space shuttle and the only person to fly in both the Mercury and Space Shuttle programs. He received the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2012.

    For more information about John Glenn, see:

    John Glenn - First American to Orbit the Earth | Biography Documentary | 1963

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