The following is a statement from NASA Administrator Sean
O’Keefe to commemorate the 40th anniversary of John Glenn’s
historic orbital flight.

“On this date in 1962, John Herschel Glenn Jr. rode an Atlas
rocket into the history books. Sitting inside his tiny Mercury
space capsule, which was no more than nine feet high and six
feet wide, he hurtled through space at five miles per second,
carrying the hopes and dreams of an entire nation with him.

“We were at the height of the Cold War. NASA was engaged in
what many considered to be a desperate race with the Soviet
Union to conquer space, and we were behind. Yet in just four
hours and 55 minutes the sprit of America was renewed.

“John Glenn did something no American had done before. It was
an extraordinary technical achievement. However, the flight of
Friendship 7 represented much more than a specific scientific
accomplishment. Senator Glenn’s ride into space embodied the
‘can do’ attitude that is NASA, and it touched the hearts of
people around the world.

“From that moment on, there was no obstacle too great, no task
too difficult. America was going to pioneer the future, and
NASA was going to lead that quest. We owe Senator Glenn and
those early space explorers our deepest and most sincere

“As we pause today to honor a true American hero, Senator
Glenn’s historic flight serves as an inspiration to an
aerospace agency at the crossroads of change. NASA needs to
rededicate itself to the fundamentals of science and
technology research. Let’s get back to what put this agency in
the hearts and minds of all Americans, and in the process
continue our mandate to expand the frontiers of flight, space
and knowledge.”

Additional information on Friendship 7’s historic flight and
the Mercury program is available on the Internet at: