On this day in 1962 the first American Spaceman orbited the Earth landing safely in the Atlantic Ocean.

Marine Lieutenant John Glenn at the age of 40 had traveled roughly 81,000 miles, he circled the globe three times at more than 17,000 mph.

The journey did not go as smoothly as planned, with Lieutenant Glenn having to control nearly two of the orbits himself after reporting ‘minor difficulties’ with the automatic altitude control system as he completed the third circuit- the maximum anticipated by the craft.

He was continuously tracked on his voyage by 18 ground stations all around the world with his messages being radio transmitted to stations in the United Kingdom and the United States.

Lieutenant John Glenn was reported have said upon re-rentering the atmosphere after his four-hour an 56-minute journey said “ Boy, that was a real fireball”.

His spacecraft, Friendship Seven, landed at 2040 GMT 240 miles north-west of Puerto Rico, where is was picked up the US destroyer Noa.

President Kennedy who was supportive and pushed the space program and space race between the USSR and the US.

He followed the mission on the television and telephoned the astronaut afterwards.

“We are really proud of you. You did a wonderful job’ he said.

The Queen and British Prime Minister, Harold Macmillan also cabled their congratulations for this exciting event in what was to be one of many achievements in the American Space Program.