Friendship 7. He became the third human to orbit the Earth, as the USSR had beaten the USA to launch the first man into space. Yuri Gagarin flew on 4/12/61, and the USSR sent the first human to orbit the Earth multiple times, indeed for a full day, Gherman Titov, on 8/6/61. Both these flights punctured the American psyche. NASA astronauts Alan Shepard and Gus Grissom flew into space on 15 minute short suborbital flights using Redstone boosters in 1961, but they were seen as popgun flights compared to the USSR's success. Glenn orbited the Earth 3 times, roughly 4 1/2 hours, launching on the Atlas booster, which was roughly 4 - 5 times as powerful as the Redstone. This flight made the US people, indeed many in the Free World, feel like the USA was in the Space Race for real. It was a huge emotional lift for the USA. Here's a short snorter from Bill Dana, the comedian who created the skit, Jose Jimenez the reluctant astronaut. Given that it's a true short snorter, e.g. kept in his wallet, it's rather hard to read some of the signatures, but the name at the top of the list is John Glenn. Here's a picture of the launch of Friendship 7, signed by all 4 Mercury astronauts who flew on the Mercury-Atlas system. Atlas 109 D was the Atlas that launched Glenn into orbit. A chunk of it was found in East Africa. Here is a piece that was cut from that chunk. The piece was given to Deke Slayton who kept it on his desk until his death. Slayton was a Mercury 7 astronaut, who became Chief of the Astronaut office.