we tend to forget just how impassioned and urgent the space race in the 1960’s was to the american administration/people.
the americans were gutted that those ignorant peasant russians had not only beaten them in the race to orbit the earth, but had done it twice in the preceeding 12 months.
that the americans were playing technical catch up to the russians is also clearly demonstrated by the stats of the different space capsules.
the american space capsule weighed one and a half tons, the russian one five tons.
the russian capsule had efficient automatic control systems; the americans did not.
the russian capsule had an efficient system that produced a workable atmosphere for the cosmonaut; the american capsule did not.
“http://www.nytimes.com/learning/general/onthisday/big/0220.html#article”>Glenn Orbits Earth 3 Times Safely