Today in Media History: Space beat reporters describe John Glenn’s 1962 flight

On Feb. 20, 1962, the media reported on astronaut John Glenn's launch and orbital space flight in NASA's Friendship 7 Mercury capsule.

Page one news from Frederic, Maryland's "The News":

Image-The News 1962

The Washington Post remembered the historic flight on its fiftieth anniversary:

"Of NASA’s 165 human spaceflights, the third was perhaps the most urgent.

Fifty years ago, a red-headed Marine colonel, John H. Glenn Jr., strapped into a tiny Mercury capsule known as Friendship 7 and hurtled into space. Glenn circled the Earth three times in just under five hours, America’s Space Age dreams looping along with him.

The Soviet Union had launched Yuri Gagarin into orbit 10 months earlier, taking a triumphant lead in the accelerating space race. In the intervening months, the United States managed to put two astronauts aloft -- Alan Shepard and Virgil 'Gus' Grissom -- but only on 15-minute suborbital jaunts.

That made Glenn’s mission the big one, a signal that the United States had caught up to the Soviets. Scrub after scrub -- 10 of them, for weather and technical issues -- heightened the suspense.

But at 9:47 a.m. on Feb. 20, 1962, Glenn’s Atlas rocket finally roared to life, catapulting him aloft."

If you watched the flight on ABC News back in 1962, you might remember this:

Ontario, Canada's afternoon newspaper, "The Ottawa Journal," reported on the almost five-hour flight:

Image-Ottawa 1962

Here is coverage from NBC News:

John Glenn returned to space in 1998 as a payload specialist for the space shuttle Discovery.

CBS News anchor Walter Cronkite, who had covered Glenn's first flight in 1962, reported on Glenn's second for CNN.

In this video, Cronkite talks to David Letterman about Glenn's return to space, and his own return to the space beat:


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