Sixty years ago today: 2/20/62. John Glenn's Mercury flight.

Discussion in 'US Coins Forum' started by Skyman, Feb 20, 2022.

  1. Skyman

    Skyman Well-Known Member

    Sixty years ago today, 2/20/62, John Glenn became the first American to fly in Earth orbit aboard his Mercury capsule, 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.

    Cheech9712, dwhiz, manny9655 and 19 others like this.
  2. Avatar

    Guest User Guest

    to hide this ad.
  3. Paddy54

    Paddy54 Hey brother can you spare a half dime?

    I can still remember 60 of us second graders all sitting on the floor in front of a small black & white TV
    set. Watching the launch....the nuns telling us we were jet age kids....and that the sky was unlimited to us in the future.
  4. -jeffB

    -jeffB Greshams LEO Supporter

    Always nice to see a write-up of a historic milestone that I'm not (quite) old enough to remember. :rolleyes:
  5. Long Beard

    Long Beard Well-Known Member

    Like Jeff B, I wasn't born yet and only two in 1969. Yet those events carried on into my youth where I learned to dream. Do children still do that any more? Dream as we once did. Thanks for that, Skyman!
  6. John Skelton

    John Skelton Morgan man!

    I remember heading to my second grade class listening on my transistor radio in my shirt pocket with the earpiece in, hoping the teacher wouldn't notice. And the next day snatching the newspaper from my dad to read and reread the account and later cutting out all articles and pictures. A practice I would repeat over the years.
  7. alurid

    alurid Well-Known Member

    Nice piece of history.
    I see Virgil Grissom's Signature.
  8. John Anthony

    John Anthony Ultracrepidarian Supporter

    I had exactly the same experience, but it was Apollo 12 when I was in second grade parochial school.

    @Skyman Great post! Are all of those items in your collection?
    Paddy54 and Skyman like this.
  9. Paddy54

    Paddy54 Hey brother can you spare a half dime?

    John I remember even all grades 1 through 8 gathered together in front on only 1 tv set.
    As we were at the mercy of someone parents having a tv they could bring in...
    I also remember a day in November 1963 ...some dates are never erased.
  10. John Anthony

    John Anthony Ultracrepidarian Supporter

    I was born in 63 so too young to remember that one, but yeah - for Apollo 12 grades 1-4 were put in in the gym in front of a b&w television to watch good old Walter Cronkite. Grades 5-8 used the chapel. The school had invested in a second TV set for that date.
    Skyman and Paddy54 like this.
  11. CaptHenway

    CaptHenway Survivor

    Fourth grade here, and the nuns did not promise us anything.
    green18 and Skyman like this.
  12. Skyman

    Skyman Well-Known Member

    Yes they are.

    FWIW, I also have some Apollo 12 items. Here's yours truly, about 10 years ago, with Dick Gordon, the Command Module Pilot of Apollo 12. I got to know him fairly well over the years (we volunteered at the same place) and was able to purchase some items directly from him. He is holding the first Playmate picture to fly to the Moon (now in my collection). FWIW, the Playmate was DeDe Lind, and the picture was the November page of the 1969 Playboy desk calendar. The Apollo 12 mission launched and landed in November 1969. The picture was glued to a cardboard backing, and was smuggled aboard the spacecraft before the mission, in a compartment that (as per mission timeline) would only be opened by Dick while orbiting the Moon alone. Given the family nature of this coin website I am showing a picture that "flares" the image of the Playmate.


    @alurid Your are correct, that is Grissom's signature. In order the signatures are:

    John Glenn, Bill Lyons (business manager for Bill Dana), Wally Schirra, Virgil "Gus" Grissom, Leroy "Gordo" Cooper, Deke Slayton, John Young, Charles Conrad and Al Worden.

    Given the assorted signing utensils, my best guess is that this short snorter was signed at 4 different bars and/or 4 different times... Glenn and Lyons, Schirra/Grissom/Cooper/Slayton, Young and Conrad, and Worden. I SUSPECT that Glenn and the rest of the "Mercury" guys all signed relatively near each other time wise. Young and Conrad, being members of the "New Nine", arrived about 3 1/2 years after the Mercury 7. Al Worden was part of the "Original 19", who were selected in April 1966, so quite a bit later.
    John Anthony, -jeffB and alurid like this.
  13. Paddy54

    Paddy54 Hey brother can you spare a half dime?

    Well a yard stick if you were misbehaving ....and those were the days you didn't go home and say sister Mary gave you a few that open a can of worms for another spanking!

    But tell you what...I wouldn't want a do over at all... quite happy where life is now...and the memories of a fantastic time to be alive.
  14. green18

    green18 Unknown member Sweet on Commemorative Coins Supporter

    With the possible exception of an occasional beating........
  15. ksparrow

    ksparrow Coin Hoarder Supporter

    Great post, Skyman. Thanks for helping us remember.
    Skyman likes this.
  16. Mr.Q

    Mr.Q Well-Known Member

    Ah, I remember it well. I told Mother Superior she was not my mother. After she explained her title to me, I left her office with very sore knuckles! You had to bring it up huh. OP, Great pioneers, thanks for the anniversary post and very nice historical acknowledgement. Be safe!
    Skyman likes this.
  17. Mac McDonald

    Mac McDonald Well-Known Member

    I drive through Grissom's hometown here in Indiana frequently...will never forget the shock of the 1967 Apollo-1 launch-pad fire that took him, Ed White (the first man to walk in space) and Roger Chaffee. Hard to believe we flew around the moon the very next year, landed the next year, and landed another 5 times after that...!
    Skyman and alurid like this.
  18. Skyman

    Skyman Well-Known Member

    Alexei Leonov, a cosmonaut from the USSR, was the first man to walk in space. Ed White did it about 3 months later.

    Talking about high risk jobs, Roger Chaffee was a U-2 pilot, and flew over Cuba during the Cuban missile crisis.
  19. charley

    charley Well-Known Member

    I am not to proud or worried about my advanced Age Of Forgetting. I can recall everything about Scott Crossfield and his first and second X15 Flights. I did not consciously know about his Mach2 Flight until 4 years after it took place, but from then on I was hooked. The guy was a Flight Beast. I lost a part of my childhood when he crashed and died in 2006. I have so much paraphernalia-books, 1st photos, Models, etc. of everything X15 (1 and 2) that when people visit say "...gee, you are old, but you don't sound like it/look like it..." They never come back. I can also remember being fascinated about the coins Lindbergh collected from around the world during his 1931-33 flights.

    i Am loD. where Its The CAp butON?
    Skyman likes this.
  20. Mac McDonald

    Mac McDonald Well-Known Member

    Guess I was thinking more in terms of the U.S. space program...the first American, etc.
    Skyman likes this.
  21. charley

    charley Well-Known Member

    And I vividly remember that, very clearly and personally.
Draft saved Draft deleted

Share This Page