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Friendship 7

John Glenn, February 20, 1962

What's in a name?

..."I set about naming the capsule. Al's Freedom 7 had struck the right note. Gus, in Liberty Bell 7, had been inspired by both patriotism and the capsule's shape. I had several ideas, but I was trying very hard to keep Dave and Lyn involved and make them feel a part of my mission. I asked them if they would be willing to think about some names.

I said, "There's only one ground rule. The world is going to be watching, so the name should represent our country and the way we feel about the rest of the world." They pored over a thesaurus and wrote dozens of names in a notebook. Then they worked them down to several possibilities, names and words including; Columbia, Endeavour, America, Magellan, we, hope, harmony, and kindness. At the top of the list was their first choice: Friendship. I was so proud of them. They had chosen perfectly."...

From: John Glenn: A Memoir, by John H. Glenn jr.

..."I put my wife Annie and the kids to work studying dictionaries and a thesaurus to come up with a list of suitable names on wich the family could vote. We played around with Liberty, Independence, a lot of them. The more I thought about it, the more I leaned toward the name Friendship. Flying around the world, over all those countries, that was the message I wanted to convey. In the end that was the name the kids liked best, too. I was real proud of them"...

Astronaut John Glenn in: "All we did was fly to the moon"

The Artwork

The "Friendship 7" artwork was designed and applied to the capsule by Chrysler-artist Cecelia Bibby.

..."I told the artist at Hangar S that my capsule would be Friendship 7, and asked her to put it on in script to add a little individuality to the usual block letters. The name would be a closely held secret until the day of the flight"...

From: John Glenn: A Memoir, by John H. Glenn jr.

Cecelia Bibby remembers:

,,Chrysler was one of the many bidders for the technical support contract which was to supply engineering and public relations writers, editors and artists to NASA. Chrysler won the contract and hired people to staff the department. We were not going to work at the Chrysler building but were physically assigned to the administration building at the cape. Although Chrysler would be signing our paychecks we would be under the direct supervision of a NASA civil servant. Any NASA department could request art work, technical publications, etc., from our group."

,,When it came time for John's flight he told someone in the astronaut office that he didn't want the name put on by stencil and he didn't want it in block letters...he wanted it in script. The astro office called over to our art dept and talked with the boss who made a fast trip over to talk with John Glenn. Then boss came back to the art department and said that John wanted the name done in script. Boss said that a man would have poor handwriting so he wanted me to do the job because as a woman I might have better handwriting. Big compliment."

,,So, I made about 3 designs. Boss took them over to John Glenn's office. John selected the one he wanted and said he wanted the artist to apply the design to the capsule. Boss said that a stencil could be cut and one of the guys could apply the name that way. Wrong thing to say. I found out about the conversation later from John and it went something like this:

John: "I want the artist who designed that to put it on by hand."
Boss: "Well, that's a woman."
John: "So?"
Boss: "She'd have to go out to the launch pad and up to the top of the gantry."
John: "Is she handicapped in some way?"
Boss: "Well, she's a woman." (To boss being a woman was a handicap.)
John: "Is she afraid of heights?"
Boss: "I don't know...but she's a woman."
John: "Why don't you find out from her whether she has some objection to going up to the top of the gantry to paint this for me. Let me know what she says."

,,So, boss came back to art dept and threw designs on my drawing board and said that John Glenn was requesting that I personally go out to the pad to handpaint the design he had chosen. I couldn't figure out why his face was so red...because I had no idea that boss hadn't got his way. John told me all about the conversation later."

Correspondence with Cece Bibby, November 2001

The Real Thing

Accompanied by a happy John Glenn, Cecelia Bibby is painting the logo on the capsule. She remembers:

,,Painting on the corrugated surface was interesting but not all that difficult. I probably became cross-eyed at some point and didn't even realize it. I had to be really careful though about how I transferred the designs to the surface of the capsule. Normally I would have used a graphite type transfer paper but that has lead in it and there was a fear that the lead could cause cracks. I chalked the back of my design and very gently traced it onto the surface. Can't remember how long it took me to paint the designs. I had to base coat and allow to dry before apply final coat and don't remember how many coats I put on."

The finished design and the damage done to it by re-entry. Bibby about that:

,,I wasn't pleased about the paint burning off after all of my work but we had figured it probably would. The heat upon re-entry was tremendous so we'd have been surprised if any of the designs had managed to make it through unscathed."

Correspondence with Cece Bibby, November 2001


Mercury-Atlas-6 carried astronaut John H. Glenn into Earth's orbit on February 20, 1962. Glenn became the first American astronaut to orbit Earth. Glenn's flight lasted just under five hours as he orbited the globe three times. Glenn chose to name his capsule Friendship-7 to underscore the importance of space exploration for the entire world. He also wanted to stress how much Earth itself is simply a neighborhood. The souvenir patch depicts the Friendship-7 flying over earth's neighborhoods. Three trails of silver circle the globe, symbolizing each orbit of the flight.

Info comes from the Spaceflight Awareness Friendship-7 decal.

In addition to the name on the hull of the capsule, John Glenn also took with him twelve gold medallions bearing the engraved "Friendship 7" logo. Cece Bibby:

,,John Glenn did have the idea that he would like to have some kind of memento to give to his wife and children as well as to his secretary, also to the astronaut nurse, Dee O'Hara. So, we came up with the idea of doing gold charms (medallions) with Friendship 7 engraved on them. I had a jeweller friend of mine make up a dozen of these charms and John carried them on his flight. I did the same for Wally Schirra and Scott Carpenter... they each ordered a dozen of the charms and carried them with them on their flights. So, there are really only 12 charms for each of the flights. I think these might have been the precurors of the patches. People knew about the charms and wanted some memento of their own. Some enterprizing salesman probably approached someone at NASA and the patch idea was born."

Correspondence with Cece Bibby, November 2001

Liberty Bell 7 | Aurora 7