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Symbol of Friendship on Grand Turk

Captain Mercer sent us this picture from Grand Turk of Friendship 7, astronaut John Glenn’s space capsule from the Mercury Space Program. Glenn, the first American to orbit earth, splashed down in Grand Turk waters Feb. 20, 1962 — back in the days when spacecraft returned to earth via parachute. In those days Grand Turk had a strong NASA and Air Force presence and he was brought to the island for a medical checkup and post flight debriefing.

In the early years of the space program Grand Turk was a major missile and space tracking station supporting the Mercury, Gemini and Apollo space programs. Glenn’s three orbits of the earth were tracked from Grand Turk, and information was sent to Cape Canaveral, Fla. The Grand Turk Island tracking station officially closed down Feb. 29, 1984, becoming obsolete due to advances in space technology — something the station actually helped to achieve — and was replaced by data-gathering satellites.

Although Eurodam was supposed to call at Grand Turk today, we just heard from Captain Mercer that the ship was unable to dock there due to 40-knot-plus winds and a Force 8 gale.

Photo courtesy of Jonathan Mercer

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