Astronaut John H. Glenn, Jr. became the first American to orbit the Earth on February 20, 1962. With the world watching the historic and live-televised event, Glenn orbited the Earth three times in his space capsule, Friendship 7. Four hours and 55 minutes after ignition, John Glenn and Friendship 7 returned to Earth and splashed down in the Atlantic Ocean.
The John Glenn Story, 1963
From the series: Headquarters’ Films Relating to Aeronautics, 1962 - 1981,Records of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration.
The Project Gemini Space Rendezvous
The first orbital “rendezvous” of two manned spacecraft occurred on December 15, 1965 when the Gemini VI (Wally Schirra and Thomas Stafford) and Gemini VII (Frank Borman and Jim Lovell) spacecraft were maneuvered to within 1 foot of each other while in orbit.
"Photograph of the Gemini VII spacecraft - side view turning adapter section toward camera - was taken from the Gemini VI spacecraft during rendezvous and station keeping maneuvers at an altitude of 161 nautical miles during orbit no. 6,on December 15,1965. G.E.T. time was 9:09/GMT time was 22.46. The two spacecrafts are approximately 40 feet apart."
From the file: Gemini VI, 12/15/1965 - 12/16/1965
More at the NASA Gemini Mission Page
Subject: STS-95 Downlink Mail
Dear Mr. President,
This is certainly a first for me, writing to a President from space, and it may be a first for you in receiving an E mail direct from an orbiting spacecraft…
Writing from space
On February 20, 1962, John Glenn became the first American to orbit the earth. In 1998, he returned to space at the age of 77, aboard the Space Shuttle Discovery (STS-95) on October 29, 1998. In the 36 years since his first orbit, both spacecraft and communication technology had advanced significantly – Senator Glenn could now communicate with the president via email directly from space.
John Glenn, the first American to orbit the Earth, became the oldest human to venture into space on October 29, 1998 as a crew member of Space Shuttle Discovery (STS-95).
John H. Glenn became the first American to orbit the Earth aboard the Mercury capsule Friendship 7 on February 20, 1962. This photo was taken of Glenn exiting Friendship 7, and was collected by the Senate Committee on Aeronautical Space and Science in 1965, who oversaw the operation of NASA at the time. After becoming a Senator in 1973, Glenn was invited by NASA to return to space over three decades after his first flight. Glenn became the oldest man to travel into space aboard Space Shuttle Discovery on October 29, 1998.
Photo of John H. Glenn in Friendship 7, SEN 89A-F1, Records of the U.S. Senate
(Ed. Note: corrected first sentence to clarify that John Glenn was the first American to orbit the Earth. Alan Shepard was the first American in space. Thanks Twitter user @imillis for the catch.)
Bon Voyage(r) as NASA’s Voyager 1 probe ventures into interstellar space!
A simulation of a Voyager spacecraft from “NASA’S 25th Anniversary Show, 1983” from the series: Moving Images Relating to U.S. Domestic and International Activities from the Records of the U.S. Information Agency.
More about the Voyager project from NASA’s Voyager Mission Pages
Happy 55th Birthday NASA!
On July 29, 1958, President Dwight Eisenhower signed the National Aeronautics and Space Act of 1958 which “provided for research into the
problems of flight within and outside the earth’s atmosphere” and
established the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA).
Apollo 11 Flight Plan
The flight plan for Apollo 11 was a minute-by-minute time line of activities for the mission crew—Neil Armstrong, Mike Collins, and Edwin “Buzz” Aldrin—and Mission Control in Houston. The flight was launched July 16, 1969. Touchdown on the moon took place, as scheduled, on July 20, 102 hours, 47 minutes, and 11 seconds after launch from Cape Kennedy. The astronauts spent 21 hours and 36 minutes on the moon, and returned to Earth on July 24.
(and thanks to the Smithsonian Libraries tumblr for the illustrated inspiration!)
Join us today at noon as we host special guests from NASA and the Smithsonian Air and Space Museum!
A panel of space experts will discuss the American space program as it developed under Presidents Richard Nixon and Gerald R. Ford, including the Apollo missions to the Moon, the decision to develop the space shuttle, and the 1975 Apollo–Soyuz test project.
The event is free at the National Archives in Washington, D.C
Thursday, June 13, at noon
William G. McGowan Theater
You can also watch this event live on our Ustream channel [www.ustream.tv/usnationalarchives].
Presented in partnership with NASA, The Smithsonian Air and Space Museum, and the Presidential Libraries of the National Archives.
While you are at the National Archives don’t miss the special display on The Space Program and President Nixon. You can see a set of moon tongs used by Apollo astronauts and much more!
Photo courtesy of NASA: Astronaut Charles M. Duke Jr., Lunar Module pilot of the Apollo 16 mission, is photographed collecting lunar samples at Station no. 1 during the first Apollo 16 extravehicular activity at the Descartes landing site. Duke is standing at the rim of Plum crater, which is 40 meters in diameter and 10 meters deep. The parked Lunar Roving Vehicle can be seen in the left background.
The Astronauts and Cosmonauts of the Apollo-Soyuz Test Project
The U.S. astronauts took Russian language courses; the Soviets took English courses. Both teams agreed that in space, the Americans would speak to their Soviet counterparts in Russian who in turn would speak English to the Americans.
Photo courtesy of NASA.gov: Astronauts (L-R Donald K. Slayton, Vance D. Brand and Thomas P. Stafford) and cosmonauts (L-R Valery N. Kubasov and Alexey A. Leonov) of the Apollo-Soyuz mission at NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Houston.
The Prime Crew for the NASA’s First Manned Skylab Mission Meet the Press in a Final Briefing Prior to Isolation for the Coming Launch of Skylab II, 05/01/1973
Skylab, the first American space station, was launched unmanned on May 14, 1973. This photo is of the prime crew for the first manned Skylab mission at a final briefing prior to isolation for the coming launch, which occurred on May 24, 1973. The astronauts are (L. to R.) Charles Conrad Jr., Commander, Paul J. Weitz, Pilot, and Dr. Joseph P. Kerwin, Science Pilot.
This Saturday, The National Archives and its Presidential Libraries will be at the National Air and Space Museum’s annual Space Day.
We’ll be hosting activities including:
- A Mission Checklist hunt for Apollo-related items at the National Archives and the Air and Space Museum in Washington, D.C.
- A Presidential Pop Quiz on U.S. Presidents and the Space Program.
Want a head start on your Mission Checklist? These Moon Tongs were used by Apollo mission astronauts to collect lunar samples.
The tongs are from the holdings of the Nixon Presidential Library and can be seen for a limited time in the “Nixon and the U.S. Space Program” display at the National Archives in D.C.
Close-up view of a set of tongs, an Apollo Lunar Hand Tool, being used by Astronaut Charles Conrad Jr., to pick up lunar samples during the Apollo XII mission, November 19, 1969. Photo courtesy of NASA.
This set of tongs was used to collect lunar samples from the “Ocean of Storms,” the largest dark spot on the Moon’s surface, during the Apollo XII mission. It was presented to President Nixon by astronauts Charles Conrad, Jr., Richard Gordon, Jr., and Alan Bean.
The Space Shuttle Challenger lifts off on its maiden voyage, 30 years ago on April 4, 1983.
Space Transportation System Number 6, Orbiter Challenger, lifts off from Pad 39A carrying astronauts Paul J. Weitz, Koral J. Bobko, Donald H. Peterson and Dr. Story Musgrave, 04/04/1983
Astronaut Bruce McCandless II floats a few meters away from the cabin of the earth-orbiting Space Shuttle Challenger as part of an historic Extravehicular Activity (EVA) during Flight 41-B. This is the first use of the nitrogen-propelled, hand-controlled device called the Manned Maneuvering Unit (MMU), which allows astronauts to move freely in space without a tether, 02/07/1984