Reportedly, John Glenn said he was “still in awe” of his space flight on its 50th anniversary February 20, 2012.
John Glenn, who rode Freedom 7 into the history books on a not-quite-five-hour flight in 1962, was not only the first American to orbit the earth, but also the oldest. He was one of the original Mercury 7 astronauts in 1962, but he left earth’s atmosphere once again in 1998 with the crew of the U.S. space shuttle Discovery. He was 77 at that time. Instead of three turns around the earth as on his first trip, Glenn circumnavigated the globe 134 times with Discovery.
Yesterday, he died at age 95, the last of the original seven astronauts.
John Glenn was an authentic American hero. Somehow, it seems he should have lived forever, but that is not the case with real heroes.
I was sorry to hear the news. I remember that 1962 flight: it paved the way to fulfillment of President Kennedy’s promise of going to the moon “before the end of the decade.” And that, at the time, was really something!
It still is.
When John Glenn flew his first mission as an astronaut, he was 40 years old. He had previously been a fighter pilot in both World War II and Korea. Then he became a test pilot, a prerequisite for the astronaut corps at the time. He left NASA soon after President Kennedy’s assassination, with the goal of running for political office in Ohio. However, it would be another 10 years before he won election to the U.S. Senate to serve four terms.
His second mission to space came 37 years after his first. That was 18 years ago!
John Glenn lived quite a life and was thought of — for much of it — as a kind of superman.
When he was strapped in to the tiny Mercury capsule in 1962, his backup astronaut, Scott Carpenter, is said to have sent him on his way with the words, “Godspeed, John Glenn.”
Once again, the words are appropriate.
Godspeed, John Glenn. And, thank you.