On February 20, 1962, Glenn piloted the Mercury-Atlas 6 "Friendship 7" spacecraft on the first manned orbital mission of the United States. Launched from Cape Canaveral (recently re-named Cape Kennedy), Florida, he completed a successful three--orbit mission around the earth, reaching a maximum altitude (apogee) of approximately 16Z statute miles and an orbital velocity of approximately 17,500 miles per hour. Glenn's "Friendship 7" Mercury spacecraft landed in an area in the Atlantic approximately 800 miles southeast of Cape Kennedy in the vicinity of Grand Turk Island. He landed 41 miles west and 19 miles north of the planned impact point. The time of the flight from launch to impact was 4 hours, 55 minutes, and 23 seconds. Prior to his flight, Glenn had served as backup pilot for Astronauts Shepard and Grissom.When the astronauts were given special assignments to ensure pilot input into the design and development of spacecraft and flight control system in January 1963, Project Apollo became Glenn's specialty area.