February 20 - 1962 - John Glenn Orbits the Earth in Friendship 7

John Glenn was the third American to make it into spaceflight during Project Mercury. He became notable for being the first American to make a real orbit of the Earth, but the Soviet Union had beaten the USA to that feat. Glenn's mission was slated to show that a craft could make it around the Earth multiple times and arrive back on the planet safely. As with everything to do with the Mercury flights, the technology and logistics had to be completely invented for the spaceflight, which meant that Glenn had his flight delayed again and again. Once he was up in orbit, though, everything appeared to be going smoothly. Then, on his second of seven planned orbits, a sensor tells Flight Command there is an issue with the heat shield. Glenn took over manual controls on his reentry, which occurred after Glenn's third orbit. On reentry, Glenn experienced extreme heat and Mission Control was worried he was lost. He would land safely, becoming a national hero and helping increase enthusiasm for the space program.

William Floyd