EARTH ORBITER Astronaut John Glenn photographed in space by an automatic sequence motion picture camera as he became the first American to orbit the Earth on February 20, 1962. His Mercury spacecraft Friendship 7 made three orbits in its 4 hours 55 minute flight. Glenn was in a state of weightlessness traveling at 17,500 mph as this picture was taken.
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“Weightlessness was a pleasant experience. I reported I felt fine as soon as the spacecraft separated from the launch vehicle, and throughout the flight this feeling continued to be the same.

Approximately every 30 minutes throughout the flight I went through a series of exercises to determine whether weightlessness was affecting me in any way. To see if head movement in a zero g environment produced any symptoms of nausea or vertigo, I tried first moving, then shaking my head from side to side, up and down, and tilting it from shoulder to shoulder. In other words, moving my head in roll, pitch, and yaw. I began slowly, but as the flight progressed, I moved my head more rapidly and vigorously until at the end of the flight I was moving as rapidly as my pressure suit would allow. The spacecraft was in its normal orbit attitude and the camera caught me in the middle of this test, and this photograph shows the extent to which I was moving my head.”

—John Glenn (Pilot’s Flight Report)