Author Topic: 55th Anniversary of Friendship 7 - John Glenn Orbital Flight  (Read 3782 times)

Offline Rocket Science

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The man is at rest but the legend lives on...

"The laws of physics are unforgiving"
~Rob: Physics instructor, Aviator, Vintage auto racer

Online Bubbinski

In honor of the 55th anniversary of John's flight
« Last Edit: 02/20/2017 09:58 PM by Bubbinski »
I'll even excitedly look forward to "flags and footprints" and suborbital missions. Just fly...somewhere.

Offline Rocket Science

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In honor of the 55th anniversary of John's flight
Excellent! 8)
"The laws of physics are unforgiving"
~Rob: Physics instructor, Aviator, Vintage auto racer

Offline IanThePineapple

I wouldn't be surprised if the Mercury 7 were having air races up in heaven...

Offline jkumpire

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It's still amazing that they did so much with so little, and we do so little with so much.

My daughter works at Muskingum University Library in New Concord where they have a big display of material about John Glenn, I will try and get some pictures.   

Offline MarsMethanogen

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I wouldn't be surprised if the Mercury 7 were having air races up in heaven...

Or collectively laughing at one of Wally's "gotchas".

Offline Alpha Control

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Thanks for creating this thread. For awhile, I was afraid that this anniversary wasn't going to get the notice that it deserves.

For the last few weeks, I've been thinking of a particular irony surrounding this anniversary.

55 years ago, on Feb 20th, 1962, America launched John Glenn into orbit, making 2 entities that could launch people into orbit.  Both entities were governments: The Russians and the Americans.

If you had asked the proverbial "man on the street" in 1962 what he might predict for 2017 - 55 years later - he may have responded with all kinds of predictions.  I expect he would be quite astonished, though, to hear that 55 years on, there are still just 2 entities that can launch people into orbit.

"Wow!", he might exclaim.  "So it's still the Russians and the Americans, then."

"Wrong!" you'd have to say - "It's the Russians and the Chinese!"

I found it quite ironic; looking at the two points in time.  In a few years we expect this all to change. We should then have 5 entities capable of orbital flight (and a first-ever mix of government & commercial): Russia, China, NASA, SpaceX, Boeing. 

But what a moment it is today.  America, who 55 years ago matched the Russians and went on to win the Moon, now can't launch her own people into orbit.
Space launches attended:
Antares/Cygnus ORB-D1 Wallops Island, VA Sept 2013 | STS-123 KSC, FL March 2008 | SpaceShipOne Mojave, CA June 2004

Online MATTBLAK

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Thanks for creating this thread. For awhile, I was afraid that this anniversary wasn't going to get the notice that it deserves.

For the last few weeks, I've been thinking of a particular irony surrounding this anniversary.

55 years ago, on Feb 20th, 1962, America launched John Glenn into orbit, making 2 entities that could launch people into orbit.  Both entities were governments: The Russians and the Americans.

If you had asked the proverbial "man on the street" in 1962 what he might predict for 2017 - 55 years later - he may have responded with all kinds of predictions.  I expect he would be quite astonished, though, to hear that 55 years on, there are still just 2 entities that can launch people into orbit.

"Wow!", he might exclaim.  "So it's still the Russians and the Americans, then."

"Wrong!" you'd have to say - "It's the Russians and the Chinese!"

I found it quite ironic; looking at the two points in time.  In a few years we expect this all to change. We should then have 5 entities capable of orbital flight (and a first-ever mix of government & commercial): Russia, China, NASA, SpaceX, Boeing. 

But what a moment it is today.  America, who 55 years ago matched the Russians and went on to win the Moon, now can't launch her own people into orbit.
:'(
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Offline edkyle99

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But what a moment it is today.  America, who 55 years ago matched the Russians and went on to win the Moon, now can't launch her own people into orbit.
Glenn wasn't at all happy about that reality.  He thought the U.S. retired Shuttle prematurely.

https://www.cnet.com/news/a-conversation-with-john-glenn/
CNET - That has to be one of the great ironies of this 50th anniversary, the fact that the United States is paying Russia for space transportation. It would have been hard to invent that scenario just a few years ago.

Glenn - They'd have laughed at it. A class-C movie, not even a class-B movie. And yet back in those days, one of the major driving forces in support of the program was the fact that we were in competition with the Soviets. And yet here we are these 50 years later, (paying) 60-some million dollars per astronaut to go up there and back. And this is supposed to be the world's greatest space-faring nation? That part of how we've developed I don't agree with at all. I don't think the shuttle should have been canceled until we had a replacement for it.

 - Ed Kyle

Online MATTBLAK

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There is one complete External Tank and two partially complete E.Ts - at the very least, those other tanks should have been completed to allow for three more Shuttle flights. Those three flights could have been spaced out to the end of 2012 or the beginning of 2013. We would still be enduring a gap of about half a decade, though - as we have seen the fight for Commercial Crew funding go on and on... :(

Not using those E.Ts is, to me, at least half as bad as the unused Saturn Vs lying in museums...
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Offline Steve G

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I wish I could remember an exact source, but on numerous occasions, I've heard that Friendship-7 was a planned 7 orbite flight, reduced to three. Can anyone elaborate where that may have come from?

Online MATTBLAK

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7 orbits was the plan. I don't have a copy of the preflight presskit - either that or I can't find it. The mission was officially unofficially shortened when Friendship 7's landing bag light started glowing.
« Last Edit: 05/06/2018 12:04 AM by MATTBLAK »
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Offline the_other_Doug

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Nope.  The first Mercury orbital flight was scheduled to last three orbits.  The "GO for at least 7 orbits" call just after SECO was in terms of orbit longevity before it would decay naturally.  The early Mercury capsules were inserted into low orbits such that the orbit would decay naturally to entry, without a retrofire burn, before the pilot ran out of air.

The flight was not shortened in any way due to the landing bag issue.
-Doug  (With my shield, not yet upon it)

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Altered post above to reflect this. But I have a friend who firmly believes my original version; due to anecdotes passed down to him.
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Offline Bob Shaw

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Altered post above to reflect this. But I have a friend who firmly believes my original version; due to anecdotes passed down to him.

I think this was done to death on CollectSpace, and the three-orbit plan won. Remember that the CapCom announced '...at *least* seven orbits...' which sounds far more like a comment on orbital stability than a call for a seven orbit mission.

Offline gwiz

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NASA pre-launch press release says the choice of a one, two or three-orbit mission would be made shortly before launch.

Offline the_other_Doug

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NASA pre-launch press release says the choice of a one, two or three-orbit mission would be made shortly before launch.

Yeah -- that was, to a small extent, NASA pre-event CYA.  In point of fact, the first two Mercury orbital flights (and the orbital primate flight that preceded them, for that matter) were set up, procedurally, with GO/NOGO calls at the end of the first and second orbits.

The nominal, planned mission was the three-orbit mission.  But the mission would be evaluated and only allowed to proceed on to the second, and then third, orbit if the Flight Director gave his approval.

In actuality, the primate flight, MA-5, was operated under this same procedure.  As it came around to the end of its second orbit, the Hawaii ground station began to pick up indications of increasing temperatures in the life support system, and one thruster that was not firing properly.  Chris Kraft made the decision, about 15 seconds prior to the time they had to retrofire, to end the mission right then.  He gave a NOGO at the end of orbit 2.

This was one reason why the first couple of manned Mercury missions had the astronaut (and, more specifically, the autopilot) maintain an acceptable retrofire attitude at all times.  Those guys had to be prepared to hit the retrofire button literally on 10 seconds' notice.
-Doug  (With my shield, not yet upon it)

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