Video: John Glenn Documentary, Short Version — 50th Anniversary of American Orbital Flight. Credit: NASA
John Glenn, hailed as a national hero and a symbol of the space age as the first American to orbit Earth, died on Thursday at the Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center in Columbus, Ohio. He was 95.
Glenn, who served four terms as a U.S. senator from Ohio, was one of NASA’s original seven Mercury astronauts. His flight on Friendship 7 on Feb. 20, 1962, showed the world that America was a serious contender in the space race with the Soviet Union. It also made Glenn an instant hero.
His mission of almost nine days on the space shuttle orbiter Discovery, launched Oct. 29, 1998, when he was 77, made him the oldest human to venture into space. On Discovery he participated in a series of tests on the aging process. The aging population was one focus of his work as a U.S. senator.
Glenn will always be remembered as the first American to orbit the Earth during those tentative, challenging, daring days when humans were just beginning to venture beyond the atmosphere that had nurtured them since the species began.
His death was announced on Twitter by Gov. John Kasich of Ohio.
The following is a statement from NASA Administrator Charles Bolden on the passing of Sen. John Glenn:
“Today, the first American to orbit the Earth, NASA astronaut and Ohio Senator John Glenn, passed away. We mourn this tremendous loss for our nation and the world. As one of NASA’s original Mercury 7 astronauts, Glenn’s riveting flight aboard Friendship 7 on Feb. 20, 1962, united our nation, launched America to the forefront of the space race, and secured for him a unique place in the annals of history.
“While that first orbit was the experience of a lifetime, Glenn, who also had flown combat missions in both World War II and the Korean War as a Marine aviator, continued to serve his country as a four-term Senator from Ohio, as a trusted statesman, and an educator. In 1998, at the age of 77, he became the oldest human to venture into space as a crew member on the Discovery space shuttle — once again advancing our understanding of living and working in space.
“He earned many honors for both his military and public service achievements. In 2012, President Obama awarded him the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the highest civilian honor the country can bestow, and he also received the Congressional Gold Medal.
“Glenn’s extraordinary courage, intellect, patriotism and humanity were the hallmarks of a life of greatness. His missions have helped make possible everything our space program has since achieved and the human missions to an asteroid and Mars that we are striving toward now.
“With all his accomplishments, he was always focused on the young people of today, who would soon lead the world. ‘The most important thing we can do is inspire young minds and advance the kind of science, math and technology education that will help youngsters take us to the next phase of space travel,’ he said. ‘To me, there is no greater calling … If I can inspire young people to dedicate themselves to the good of mankind, I’ve accomplished something.’
“Senator Glenn’s legacy is one of risk and accomplishment, of history created and duty to country carried out under great pressure with the whole world watching. The entire NASA Family will be forever grateful for his outstanding service, commitment and friendship. Personally, I shall miss him greatly. As a fellow Marine and aviator, he was a mentor, role model and, most importantly, a dear friend. My prayers go out to his lovely and devoted wife, Annie, and the entire Glenn family at this time of their great loss.”
The following is a statement from NASA Deputy Administrator Dava Newman on the passing of Sen. John Glenn:
I’m deeply saddened by the passing of Senator John Glenn. His service on behalf of our nation and his personal and political leadership made him a world icon. His first orbital flight inspired countless people across Spaceship Earth to pursue careers in the aerospace fields, including me, and his legend continued to grow and inspire over the years. When he launched aboard the space shuttle in 1998, his courage and age-defying challenge to experience longer-duration microgravity inspired an entirely new generation, and I was incredibly proud to be a member of the scientific research team that was honored to work with astronaut Glenn. John Glenn’s legacy as an explorer and a dedicated public servant will thrive as we journey to Mars and achieve the many milestones in space for which he helped open the door. The NASA Family joins the entire nation and the world in celebrating the life of this great American hero. Ad astra.
For more information about Glenn’s NASA career, and his agency biography, visit:
Posted by: Soderman/SSERVI Staff