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Remembering Friendship 7: Fifty years ago on Monday, astronaut John Glenn became the first American to orbit the Earth when an Atlas rocket carrying his Mercury capsule Friendship 7 blasted off from Cape Canaveral AFS, Fla., lifting him into space. Over the course of a mission slightly less than five hours in duration, Glenn circled the Earth three times before splashing down in the capsule in the Atlantic Ocean about 800 miles southeast of Bermuda, where a Navy destroyer retrieved him. Glenn's Feb. 20, 1962, mission came some 10 months after Soviet cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin became the first human to orbit the Earth. (NASA's Friendship 7 webpage) (See Associated Press report, via Politico, and Fox News report.)