“Boy, that was a real fireball of a ride.”

Updated
 
This Feb. 20, 1962 photo made available by NASA shows astronaut John Glenn during his space flight in the Friendship 7 Mercury spacecraft, weightless and traveling at 17,500 mph. The image was made by an automatic sequence motion picture camera. (AP Photo/NASA)
This Feb. 20, 1962 photo made available by NASA shows astronaut John Glenn during his space flight in the Friendship 7 Mercury spacecraft, weightless and traveling at 17,500 mph. The image was made by an automatic sequence motion picture camera. (AP Photo/NASA)
AP

Fifty years ago today John Glenn became the first American to orbit the Earth and return safely to the surface.

According to NASA:

“In 4 hours and 56 minutes, John Glenn circled the globe three times, reaching speeds of more than 17,000 miles per hour. The successful mission concluded with a splashdown and recovery in the Atlantic Ocean, 800 miles southeast of Bermuda.”

Safely on Earth, Lieutenant Glenn said, “Boy, that was a real fireball of a ride.” Said CNN: “Four million people turned out to honor him at the largest ticker-tape parade New York City had ever thrown. President John F. Kennedy valued Glenn so highly as a symbol of U.S. prowess during the space race with the Soviets that he ordered NASA not to let him return to space.”

So what’s next? Does America still have The Right Stuff? The comments are go for lift-off, Friendship 7.

"Boy, that was a real fireball of a ride."

Updated