For a lot of people it’s ancient history because they weren’t even born yet. But many still remember John Glenn’s historic ride in a space capsule called “Friendship 7” that was only 6-feet wide and 9 ½ feet tall. It sent the future Ohio Senator 100 miles into space making him the first American to orbit the earth.

You gotta remember there were a lot of questions back then. What would the effect of weightlessness be? Did we come up with the best design? There were problems developing the booster rocket and we knew almost nothing about how weather would affect the rocket and the space capsule before it even entered space. And how about re-entry into the atmosphere? With all those questions would you want to be the guinea pig?

John Glenn carried with him a note. He even read it on TV before he went up. It read, “I am a stranger. I come in peace. Take me to your leader.” That was actually the short version of it. But, seriously, back then we just didn’t know if we’d run into someone or something in space.

Compared to what we know today – those days were so primitive. There were so many unknowns, NASA wasn’t taking any chances. Were there beings living in space we couldn’t see? And now that we were reaching beyond our own atmosphere, would they make contact with us through John Glenn? Would some big mother ship snatch the Friendship 7 out of orbit and question him?

Millions of people were asking those questions, so in the pocket of his space suit, John Glenn had that message written in about 14 different languages proclaiming that he came in peace. But NASA was also thinking about what might happen if the space capsule happened to go off course during re-entry and somehow ended up in some jungle and what the reaction of a bunch of baffled natives would be when they saw a big parachute with a capsule on the end, and inside was a guy in a shiny silver space suit and helmet.

That’s really what was happening back in those days and the various things people worried about. John Glenn’s flight into space happened on this date, February 20th, 1962.