The Mercury-Atlas 6 mission, conducted by NASA on February 20 1962, was piloted by astronaut John Glenn, who performed three orbits of the Earth, making him the first U.S. astronaut to orbit the Earth. It reestablished NASA and the US as strong contenders in the space race with the Soviet Union. The USSR had launched Sputnik, the first spacecraft, in 1957, and Yuri Gagarin was the first human in space in 1961. After Glenn’s flight the space race shifted its focus towards the Moon.
Image above: Glenn Suits-Up for Launch 
photo by NASA
‘Astronaut John H. Glenn Jr. dons his silver Mercury pressure suit in preparation for launch. On February 20, 1962 Glenn lifted off into space aboard his Mercury Atlas (MA-6) rocket and became the first American to orbit the Earth. After orbiting the Earth 3 times, Friendship 7 landed in the Atlantic Ocean 4 hours, 55 minutes and 23 seconds later, just East of Grand Turk Island in the Bahamas. Glenn and his capsule were recovered by the Navy Destroyer Noa,
21 minutes after splashdown.’
(source NASA: grin.hq.nasa.gov/...GPN-2000-001027)
“I applied this photograph of a focused and downright terrified John Glenn, minutes before being shot into space, to the back of the Tincan/Friendship 7 relief in 2005. The work was designed to fit the whole of the available space of Galerie de Aanschouw in Rotterdam. Billed as the smallest gallery in town, De Aanschouw is basically a glass display case embedded in the facade of De Schouw, a famous Rotterdam pub... The idea of applying a photo to the rear of the relief arose because a piece exhibited in De Aanschouw can be seen from both sides. It worked so well for the object itself that I applied a rear image to many of my subsequent bas-reliefs, even though it may only be visible during transport or installation of the work.”