Recreating John Glenn's Historic Flight, 50 Years Later

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Some AVweb readers may remember the effort that went into re-creating the first flight of the Wright Brothers for the 100th anniversary in 2003 -- despite earnest efforts and the assembly of a crack flight-test and construction team, the project met mixed success at best. But that's not discouraging Craig Russell, a former cargo jet pilot living in Alabama, who has latched on to the even more daunting mission of re-creating astronaut John Glenn's historic 1962 orbit around the Earth, 50 years later, on Feb. 20, 2012. So far Russell has been shopping the idea around, looking for supporters. Most have been encouraging but few have written checks. Russell estimates it would cost at least $45 million to buy a new rocket and create a reproduction of Glenn's Mercury space capsule, complete with parachute for a splash-down landing, but it would be well spent. "You have to believe," he told the Huntsville Times. "People either get it or they don't." If you think you get it, you can visit Russell's Web site for more info. Russell has attained tax-deductible status, and said he plans to continue the effort at least through 2008. If enough support fails to materialize, he told the Times he may abandon the project. In order to meet his timeline, he would need to procure a space vehicle sometime this year and begin astronaut training in 2010.