Human Spaceflights

International Flight No. 3

Mercury 6

Friendship 7


Patch Mercury 6 Mercury project patch

Launch, orbit and landing data

Launch date:  20.02.1962
Launch time:  14:47:39.002 UTC
Launch site:  Cape Canaveral
Launch pad:  LC-14
Altitude:  161 - 261 km
Inclination:  32.54°
Landing date:  20.02.1962
Landing time:  19:43:02 UTC
Landing site:  21°25'36" N, 68°36'30" W

walkout photo

John Glenn

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alternative photo

alternative photo


No.   Surname Given names Position Flight No. Duration Orbits
1  Glenn  John Herschel  Pilot 1 4h 55m 23s 

Crew seating arrangement

1  Glenn

Backup Crew

No.   Surname Given names Position
1  Carpenter  Malcolm Scott  Pilot
Carpenter - Glenn

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Scott Carpenter

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Launch vehicle:  Atlas-D No. 109D (58-7104)
Spacecraft:  Mercury (No. 13 / „Friendship 7“)


Launch from Cape Canaveral and landing northwest of Puerto Rico in the vicinity of Grand Turk Island (Atlantic Ocean).

After two ballistic flights by Alan Shepard and Gus Grissom, John Glenn became the first American in orbit. Three problems occurred during the flight. First, a yaw thruster was causing attitude control problems, forcing the astronaut to abandon the automatic control system for the manual electrical fly-by-wire system. Second, a faulty switch in the heat shield circuit indicated that the clamp holding the shield had been prematurely released - a signal later found to be false. During reentry, however, the retropack was not jettisoned but retained as a safety measure to hold the heat shield in place in the event it had loosened. If the signal had been correct, John Glenn would have not survived this flight. Moreover, the temperature in John Glenn's spacesuit was too warm. During the landing the astronaut could not manually control the ship, while more and more fuel was being lost. John Glenn decided to deploy the drogue chute manually to regain attitude stability. Just before he reached the switch, the drogue chute opened automatically at 8,5 km (not as planned 6,5 km), but in any-case the spacecraft regained stability.

Friendship 7 splashed down in the Atlantic about 40 miles (60 km) away from the planned landing zone. Retrofire calculations had not taken into account the spacecraft weight loss due to the use of onboard consumables. The spacecraft was recovered by the destroyer USS Noa. During pickup John Glenn remained in the spacecraft.

Photos / Graphics

Mercury spaceship Mercury spacecraft
Mercury spacecraft Mercury control panel
John Glenn in training John Glenn in training
John Glenn in training Mercury 6 on launch pad
Glenn boarding Mercury 6 launch
Glenn onboard Earth observation
Earth observation Earth observation
Mercury 6 recovery Mercury 6 recovery


Last update on August 11, 2020.