skip to main content

S.Res. 377 (112th): A resolution recognizing the 50th anniversary of the historic achievement of John Herschel Glenn, Jr., in becoming the first United States astronaut to orbit the Earth.

The text of the bill below is as of Feb 15, 2012 (Resolution Agreed to by Senate).



2d Session

S. RES. 377


February 15, 2012

(for himself, Mr. Portman, Mr. Nelson of Florida, Mr. Rockefeller, Mr. Wicker, Mr. Boozman, Mr. Durbin, Mrs. Hutchison, Mr. Pryor, Mrs. Murray, Mr. Reid, Mr. Schumer, and Mr. Levin) submitted the following resolution; which was considered and agreed to


Recognizing the 50th anniversary of the historic achievement of John Herschel Glenn, Jr., in becoming the first United States astronaut to orbit the Earth.

Whereas John Herschel Glenn, Jr. was born on July 18, 1921, in Cambridge, Ohio to parents John and Clara Glenn;

Whereas John Glenn grew up in New Concord, Ohio with his childhood sweetheart and future wife, Annie Castor, 150 miles east of Dayton, Ohio, the birthplace of the Wright brothers, who first took humankind into flight;

Whereas John Glenn enlisted in the Naval Aviation Cadet program shortly after the December 7, 1941, attack on Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, and was commissioned as an officer in the United States Marine Corps in 1943;

Whereas John Glenn received many honors for his military service, including the Distinguished Flying Cross on 6 occasions, the Air Medal with 18 Clusters, the Asiatic-Pacific Campaign Medal, the American Campaign Medal, the World War II Victory Medal, the China Service Medal, the National Defense Service Medal, and the Korean Service Medal;

Whereas, with the onset of the Cold War, the United States and the free world feared the intentions of the Soviet Union in space;

Whereas President Dwight D. Eisenhower asked the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (referred to in this preamble as NASA) to find the most talented, patriotic, and selfless test pilots to participate in Project Mercury, the first human spaceflight program in the United States;

Whereas John Glenn and fellow candidates for NASA’s Astronaut Corps underwent pressure suit, acceleration, vibration, heat, loud noise, psychiatric, personality, motivation, and aptitude tests at the Aeromedical Laboratory at the Wright Air Development Center in Dayton, Ohio;

Whereas John Glenn, Malcolm S. Carpenter, L. Gordon Cooper, Jr., Virgil I. Gus Grissom, Walter M. Shirra, Jr., Alan B. Shepard, Jr., and Donald K. Slayton were selected from among hundreds of other patriotic candidates to be named the original Mercury Seven astronauts;

Whereas Project Mercury was charged with the unprecedented responsibility of competing with the strides that the Soviet Union was making in space exploration;

Whereas the United States public viewed John Glenn and the Mercury Seven astronauts as men on the front line of the war not only for space supremacy but also, in many minds, for the survival of the United States;

Whereas John Glenn accurately captured the significance of the time when he later wrote that the world was at the door of a new age, and we were the people who had been chosen to take the first steps across the threshold;

Whereas the Project Mercury astronauts trained for their manned space flight missions in the Multi-Axis Space Training Inertial Facility at NASA’s Research Center in Cleveland, Ohio;

Whereas Alan Shepard was chosen to pilot the first manned Project Mercury mission on Freedom 7 on May 5, 1961, which proved that the United States was capable of successfully launching a person into suborbital flight;

Whereas Virgil Grissom was chosen to pilot the second manned Project Mercury mission on Liberty Bell 7 and became the second United States astronaut to achieve suborbital flight on July 21, 1961;

Whereas the Soviet Union had successfully launched the spacecrafts Lunar 2 and Lunar 3 in 1959 before successfully launching and returning to Earth Major Yuri Gagarin, who completed a 108-minute single orbit around the Earth in 1961;

Whereas John Glenn was selected from among the Project Mercury astronauts to command the first United States capsule to orbit the Earth;

Whereas John Glenn, with the help of his children Dave and Lyn, named the first United States space capsule to orbit the Earth Friendship 7, re-emphasizing the peaceful intentions of the United States space exploration program;

Whereas John Glenn trained vigorously, working through 70 simulated missions and reacting to nearly 200 simulated system failures, to prepare to orbit the Earth and successfully complete the first manned orbital mission for the United States;

Whereas the work that John Glenn conducted on the cockpit layout, instrument panel design, and spacecraft controls in the Mercury spacecraft enhanced the design of Friendship 7 and the ability of an astronaut to control Friendship 7, which proved useful during the mission;

Whereas, at 9:47 a.m. Eastern Standard Time on February 20, 1962, the Atlas 109D rocket boosters ignited and John Glenn and Friendship 7 commenced liftoff at NASA’s Space Center in Cape Canaveral, Florida;

Whereas John Glenn, aboard Friendship 7, became the first United States astronaut to orbit the Earth, orbiting 3 times and observing 3 sunrises, 3 sunsets, and the wonder of the universe in only 4 hours and 56 minutes;

Whereas, when John Glenn learned that the heat shield on Friendship 7 had possibly become loose in orbit, compromising the successful completion of the space mission, Glenn bravely managed the reentry procedures and proved that a person can safely and successfully complete a NASA mission;

Whereas John Glenn successfully completed reentry into Earth, splashing down in the Atlantic Ocean at 2:43 p.m. Eastern Standard Time, east of Grand Turk Island at 21 degrees, 25 minutes North latitude and 68 degrees, 36 minutes West longitude, and was recovered by the USS Noa;

Whereas, in the context of the Cold War, the success of the Friendship 7 flight restored the standing of the United States as the leading country in the race to space against the Soviet Union;

Whereas the completion of the inaugural orbit of the Earth by John Glenn validated NASA’s manned space flight mission and secured the future missions of NASA’s manned space capsules;

Whereas the people of the United States heralded John Glenn as the personification of heroism and dignity in an age of uncertainty and fear;

Whereas the press later described John Glenn as a man who embodied the noblest human qualities;

Whereas President John F. Kennedy echoed the belief held by John Glenn that the United States space program was not just a scientific journey but also a source of inspiration and pride, saying, our leadership in science and industry, our hopes for peace and security . . . require us to solve these mysteries and to solve them for the good of all men;

Whereas John Glenn is a patriot and space pioneer who encouraged the people of the United States to rightfully view NASA as an embodiment of the persistent quest of the people of the United States to expand their knowledge and explore frontiers;

Whereas, in retirement, John and Annie Glenn continued their public service by establishing the John Glenn School of Public Affairs at The Ohio State University, living up to the words of John Glenn, who said, If there is one thing I’ve learned in my years on this planet, it’s that the happiest and most fulfilled people I’ve known are those who devoted themselves to something bigger and more profound than merely their own self-interest.; and

Whereas, although 50 years have passed, the historic orbit of John Glenn around the Earth aboard Friendship 7 remains a source of pride and honor for the people of the United States: Now, therefore, be it

That the Senate—


honors the 50th anniversary of the landmark mission of John Herschel Glenn, Jr., in piloting the first manned orbital mission for the United States;


recognizes the profound importance of the achievement of John Glenn as a catalyst for space exploration and scientific advancement in the United States; and


honors the thousands of dedicated men and women of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration who worked on Project Mercury and ensured the success of the Friendship 7 Mercury mission.