The first American in orbit on launch day: John Glenn prior to boarding Friendship 7 for the historic first US orbital mission

Space Mission
Mercury Atlas 6, 20 February 1962

NASA / Unidentified Photographer

Photo Description
Vintage gelatin silver print on fiber-based paper
8 h × 10 w in (20 × 25 cm); Numbered to verso ’62-MA6-104′ with NASA caption.

On 20 February 1962, John Glenn’s Friendship 7 mission truly marked the beginning of NASA’s ventures into space, 10 months after the first human orbital spaceflight by Yuri Gagarin in Vostok 1 (12 April 1961).