John Glenn’s Friendship 7: 50 Years of American Space Flight — PICTURES

Feb. 20, 2012, 3:35 a.m.

Fifty years after former Sen. John Glenn, D-Ohio, be­came the first Amer­ic­an to or­bit the Earth, the Amer­ic­an space pro­gram is some­what un­dir­ec­ted, some crit­ics note. But in the years lead­ing up to Glenn’s flight in the Friend­ship 7 cap­sule, in which he circled the Earth three times, the goal of the pro­gram was very clear: to get Amer­ic­ans in­to space and, even­tu­ally, to land Amer­ic­ans on the moon.

Be­low are some pho­tos pre­ced­ing Glenn’s his­tor­ic voy­age and after. The last slide is an ed­ited ver­sion of NASA’s cov­er­age of the trip, avail­able from the Na­tion­al Archives and Re­cords Ad­min­is­tra­tion.