Mercury Atlas 6

Mercury Atlas 6 (MA-6) was a manned space flight in the context of the American Mercury program. Pilot John Herschel Glenn was a first American astronaut in the earth orbit.

Mercury program
mission emblem
mission data
mission: Mercury Atlas 6
Friendship 7
John Glenn
start to: 20. February 1962
landing to: 20. February 1962
duration: 4 hours 55 minutes
landing strip: Atlantic
orbits around the earth: 3
salvage vessel: USS Noa
previous mission:

Mercury Atlas 5

the following mission:

Mercury Atlas 7

John Glenn hebt mit der Mercury-Atlas 6 in seiner Kapsel Friendship 7 vom Boden ab
John Glenn lifts 1 crew 2 preparation 3 Flugverlauf 4 meaning for the Mercury program 5



to 29. November 1961, after which on board, NASA communicated successful flight of Mercury Atlas 5 with a Schimpansen that the next Mercury flight with John Glenn would take place. Contrary to the flights of Alan this mark the Mercury cap should be brought Shepard and Virgil Grissom into an earth orbit.

As a spare pilot Scott Carpenter was intended.

Glenn selected the name Friendship 7 for the space cap.


Mercury Atlas 6 was first manned flight, which should be accomplished with the Atlas rocket. The previous manned flights Mercury Redstone 3 and Mercury Redstone 4 had been suborbitale flights with the talking clay/tone rocket.

After successfully with Mercury Atlas 5 the last test flight had run, now the actual goal of the Mercury program could be finally considered: to bring an American into the earth orbit. For Mercury Atlas 6 three orbits around the earth were intended.

The space cap with the serial number 13 became to 27. August 1961 in Cape Canaveral delivered and to 2. January 1962 on the booster rocket installs. In the weeks and months before the start Glenn and the ground personnel practiced again and again the flight, partly in the simulator, partly on the launch pad.

The flight was first for the 27. January set, had to be shifted however several times, because the covered sky did not permit a filming of the start, in addition a defect in a tank was determined, which required a larger repair.


John Glenn im Raumanzug kurz vor dem Start
John Glenn in the space suit before the start Mercury Atlas

6 became then finally short to 20. February started, ten minutes later was the cap Friendship 7 in the orbit.

During the second orbit around the earth the cap signaled that that did not sit heat shield any longer correctly. If this announcement were correct, Friendship became 7 with the reentry glowing. The directing center decided therefore that the brake rockets were thrown off not as usual after igniting. Thus should be held the loose heat shield in position, until it was pressed in slightly by the rising air pressure.

During the fall the Friendship 7 oscillated strongly, and that fuel for the depth control was completely used. The Hilfsfallschirm released however in former times as planned and stabilized the space cap.

Since Friendship 7 was more easily than planned in the end, the computed landing point was missed by 60 kilometers. The destroyer USS Noa heaved the cap with the astronaut on board. Glenn blasted the Einstiegsluke open and tightened themselves thereby a small injury at the hand. Glenn was examined immediately medically, showed however otherwise except exhaustion and thirst no complaints.

the USA had unlocked

meaning for the Mercury program with this adequate manned space flight to the Soviet Union, which led however after number and duration of the space flights. Glenn was celebrated as a hero. With this flight the goals of the Mercury program were fulfilled to Deke Slayton than pilot, further starts of the Mercury caps with Atlas rockets should however soon follow , for Mercury Atlas 7 had been already announced.

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