Forty years ago John Glenn became the first American to orbit the Earth, getting the U.S. space program moving with a vengeance and helping spark a new commitment to TV news. Legendary CBS anchor Walter Cronkite reported the event to a live television audience on that day in 1962, and he offers his reflections.
(NPR aired the following correction to this story on air on Feb. 21, 2002:
"I'm crushed. The once most trusted man America has let me down."
This is from Hilton Evans in Randolph, Massachusetts.
"Mine will likely be only one of dozens if not hundreds of e-mails correcting Walter Cronkite's assertion that Velcro was one of many spinoffs of the U.S. space program. Velcro was not invented by NASA. It wasn't even invented in the United States. Velcro was invented by Swiss inventor and hiker George de Mestral who noticed how flower burrs stuck to his pants. Upon examining the burrs with a microscope, he noticed each burr was covered with tiny fur grabbing hooks. Mestral realized he could use this natural design to create an alternative to the zipper. Mestral's idea was patented in 1955 after he perfected a process for creating the microhooks in nylon.")