Friendship 7 to Discovery *36 Years
From splash down February 20, 1962, to a smooth landing November 7, 1998, John Glenn is the first astronaut to experience the diversity of 36 years of space flight. As a project Mercury Astronaut, Glenn set a record as the first American to orbit the Earth four hours, 55 minutes. On that historic day, February 20, 1962, Glenn completed three orbits at an altitude between 100 and 162 miles in his small Friendship 7 Mercury Capsule.
Thirty-six years later, Glenn returned to space on October 29, 1998, as a Payload Specialist on the Space Shuttle Discovery. Glenn set another record as the oldest astronaut to date to go into space. Space flight effects on the aging process were one element of a variety of research Glenn participated in during this historic flight.