In May 1961, President John F. Kennedy challenged America to send a man to the Moon before the end of the decade. Less than a year later on February 20, 1962, the U.S. manned space program reached a milestone towards this ambitious goal when astronaut John Glenn became the first American to orbit the Earth.
Glenn was launched into orbit aboard the Project Mercury spacecraft Friendship 7, making three rotations of the Earth in a flight lasting almost five hours. This historic flight set the stage for even more daring quests and led to the monumental Apollo 11 mission to the Moon in 1969.
The Project Mercury 4¢ stamp was issued on February 20, 1962 — at the very same time that Glenn was in orbit high above the Earth. The stamp shows Glenn’s Friendship 7 spacecraft and was the first-ever stamp honoring America’s manned space program.
Stamp Issued: February 20,1962