John Glenn, the first American to orbit the Earth, died today at the age of 95, the Columbus Dispatch reported.
As well as orbiting the Earth aboard the Mercury spacecraftFriendship 7 in 1962, Glenn was also a Marine pilot, a test pilot, U.S. Senator, and the oldest person to travel in space.
Glenn began his life of adventure and exploration as a pilot in World War II. As a Marine Corps pilot, he broke the transcontinental flight speed record in a Vought F8U-3P Crusader in 1967, flying from Los Angeles to New York in under three and a half hours. As part of the Mercury program, he became the first American to orbit the Earth in 1962, when he circled the planet three times on board the Mercury spacecraft. He also flew onboard the space shuttle in 1998, at the age of 77, helping NASA test the effects of space travel on older people.
In the time between the two flights Glenn had a 25-year career as a U.S. Senator, winning the seat on 1974. After leaving the Senate he ran for the Democratic presidential nomination in 1984, in a short campaign.
The Friendship 7 mission’s four hour, 55-minute flight was intended to be automatically controlled, but a yaw attitude control jet clogged, necessitating the manual fly-by-wire system. The heat shield circuit also malfunctioned, causing the circuit to indicate that the heat shield had prematurely deployed when in fact it had not.
“John Glenn is, and always will be, Ohio’s ultimate hometown hero, and his passing today is an occasion for all of us to grieve,” Ohio Gov. John R. Kasich told the Columbus Dispatch. “As we bow our heads and share our grief with his beloved wife, Annie, we must also turn to the skies, to salute his remarkable journeys and his long years of service to our state and nation.”
Glenn died in the company of his family at the Ohio State University Medical Center in Columbus, Ohio.
Filed Under: Aerospace + defense