The launch date was first announced as January 16, 1962, then postponed to January 20 because of problems with the Atlas rocket fuel tanks. The launch then slipped day by day to January 27 due to unfavorable winter weather. On that day, Glenn was on board Mercury 6 and ready to launch, when, at T-29 minutes, the flight director called off the launch because of thick clouds that would have made it impossible to photograph or film the launch vehicle after the first 20 seconds of the mission (the inability of launch crews to film the failed Mercury-Atlas 1 launch 16 months earlier had proven the importance of flying only in clear skies). A large crowd of reporters gathered at Cape Canaveral for the launch went home disappointed. Mission Director Walter Williams felt a sense of relief at the bad weather, as there was still a general sense that the spacecraft and booster were not ready to fly yet. NASA informed the anxious public that the mission would take time to get ready since crewed launches required a high degree of preparation and safety standards. The launch was postponed until February 1, 1962. When technicians began to fuel the Atlas on January 30, they discovered a fuel leak had soaked an internal insulation blanket between the RP-1 and LOX tanks. This caused a two-week delay while necessary repairs were made. On February 14, the launch was again postponed due to weather. Finally on February 18, the weather started to break. It appeared that February 20, 1962 would be a favorable day to attempt a launch.
The Space Shuttle was a partially reusable low Earth orbital spacecraft system that was operated from 1981 to 2011 by the U. S. National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) as part of the Space Shuttle program. Its official program name was Space Transportation System (STS), taken from a 1969 plan for a system of reusable spacecraft of which it was the only item funded for development. The first of four orbital test flights occurred in 1981, leading to operational flights beginning in 1982. In addition to the prototype whose completion was cancelled, five complete Shuttle systems were built and used on a total of 135 missions from 1981 to 2011, launched from the Kennedy Space Center (KSC) in Florida. Operational missions launched numerous satellites, interplanetary probes, and the Hubble Space Telescope (HST); conducted science experiments in orbit; and participated in construction and servicing of the International Space Station. The Shuttle fleet’s total mission time was 1322 days, 19 hours, 21 minutes and 23 seconds.