John Glenn, un des 7 astronautes du Programme Mercury, a effectué son premier vol spatial le 20 février 1962 à bord de la capsule Friendship 7, devenant le 1er américain en orbite. Par la suite, il quitte la NASA et devient Sénateur... En octobre 1998, il effectue son 2ème vol à bord de la navette spatiale Discovery lors de la mission STS-95, et devient ainsi, la personne la plus agée ayant effectué un vol spatial (77 ans)
Interview effectuée en 1987
Q : How many years were you connected to the space program before your 1st flight ?
A : I selected in april 1959. After the first two years of training, we were ready to go space but that was delayed while the equipment was developed. I made the first orbital US flight on february 20, 1962 with Friendship 7 spacecraft
Q : How did you feel prior the flight ?
A : I was not afraid. I looked forward the mission and hurry to learn everything about the astronaut reaction in space
Q : What kinds of sensations did you experienced during take-off ?
A : Lift off was very gentle because the tremendous weight of the booster barely exceeded the trust of rockets. On the Mercury missions, insertion into orbit was made at about 8G's and re-entry had an approximate 8G deceleration.
Q : What does weightlessness feel like, and what did you think about during the flight ?
A : I found weightlessness very pleasant. But I did't float around the capsulme because we kept our straps in place. The cockpit space was very small...
In space it's completly black, even when the sun is shining. You can't see the blue sky. The view from 160 miles in altitude was fantastic...
Q : What were some of the problems you encountered and how did you fixed them ?
A : The automatic control systems wasn't functioning properly and I took the manual control during the 2nd and 3rd orbits and during the re-entry.
Another problem was a signaeled sent to the ground indicating my heat shield was loose. To make sure it was secured during re-entry, I kept retrorocket pack in place. Fortunatly, it was a mistake message... So, if it was good, I was not here to be answering questions today...
Q : What did you eat and did it taste real ?
A : I took numbers of kind of food, all emulsified like baby food. No problem eating.
Q : What was Re-entry like ?
A : With 8G's forces and with the problem of heat shield and as I kept the retrorocket pack, I was very busy. During the re-entry, some large portions of burning retrorocket pack came flying by the window...
Q : Were you glad to be back on Earth, or did you feel you could have spent the rest of your life up there ?
A : I was glad to be back. But I think it would be great to go on a mission every day...