John Glenn was a NASA astronaut. He was part of the first group of astronauts NASA picked. He is the first American to orbit Earth. He also became a U.S. senator. Later, he became the oldest person to fly in space.
Born July 18, 1921 in Cambridge, Ohio. Married to the former Anna Margaret Castor of New Concord, Ohio. They have two grown children and two grandchildren.
Glenn attended primary and secondary schools in New Concord, Ohio. He attended Muskingum College in New Concord and received a Bachelor of Science degree in Engineering. Muskingum College also awarded him an honorary Doctor of Science degree in engineering. He has received honorary doctoral degrees from nine colleges or universities.
Glenn has been awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross on six occasions, and holds the Air Medal with 18 Clusters for his service during World War II and Korea. Glenn also holds the Navy Unit Commendation for service in Korea, the Asiatic-Pacific Campaign Medal, the American Campaign Medal, the World War II Victory Medal, the China Service Medal, the National Defense Service Medal, the Korean Service Medal, the United Nations Service Medal, the Korean Presidential Unit Citation, the Navy's Astronaut Wings, the Marine Corps' Astronaut Medal, the NASA Distinguished Service Medal, and the Congressional Space Medal of Honor. On March 1, 1999, NASA renamed its Cleveland center the "John H. Glenn Research Center at Lewis Field" in his honor.
He entered the Naval Aviation Cadet Program in March 1942 and was graduated from this program and commissioned in the Marine Corps in 1943. After advanced training, he joined Marine Fighter Squadron 155 and spent a year flying F-4U fighters in the Marshall Islands.
During his World War II service, he flew 59 combat missions. After the war, he was a member of Marine Fighter Squadron 218 on the North China patrol and served on Guam. From June 1948 to December 1950 Glenn was an instructor in advanced flight training at Corpus Christi, Texas. He then attended Amphibious Warfare Training at Quantico, Virginia. In Korea he flew 63 missions with Marine Fighter Squadron 311. As an exchange pilot with the Air Force Glenn flew 27 missions in the F-86 Sabrejet. In the last nine days of fighting in Korea Glenn downed three MIG's in combat along the Yalu River.
After Korea, Glenn attended Test Pilot School at the Naval Air Test Center, Patuxent River, Maryland. After graduation, he was project officer on a number of aircraft. He was assigned to the Fighter Design Branch of the Navy Bureau of Aeronautics (now Bureau of Naval Weapons) in Washington from November 1956 to April 1959, during which time he also attended the University of Maryland.
In July 1957, while project officer of the F8U Crusader, he set a transcontinental speed record from Los Angeles to New York, spanning the country in 3 hours and 23 minutes. This was the first transcontinental flight to average supersonic speed. Glenn has nearly 9,000 hours of flying time, with approximately 3,000 hours in jet aircraft.
Glenn was assigned to the NASA Space Task Group at Langley Research Center, Hampton, Virginia, in April 1959 after his selection as a Project Mercury Astronaut. The Space Task Group was moved to Houston and became part of the NASA Manned Spacecraft Center (now Johnson Space Center) in 1962. Glenn flew on Mercury-6 (February 20, 1962) and STS-95 (October 29 to November 7, 1998), and has logged over 218 hours in space. Prior to his first flight, Glenn had served as backup pilot for Astronauts Shepard and Grissom. When astronauts were given special assignments to ensure pilot input into the design and development of spacecraft, Glenn specialized in cockpit layout and control functioning, including some of the early designs for the Apollo Project. Glenn resigned from the Manned Spacecraft Center on January 16, 1964. He was promoted to the rank of Colonel in October 1964 and retired from the Marine Corps on January 1, 1965.
On February 20, 1962, Glenn piloted the Mercury-Atlas 6 "Friendship 7" spacecraft on the first manned orbital mission of the United States. Launched from Cape Canaveral (Florida) Launch Complex 14, he completed a successful three-orbit mission around the earth, reaching a maximum altitude (apogee) of approximately 162 statute miles and an orbital velocity of approximately 17,500 miles per hour. Glenn's "Friendship 7" Mercury spacecraft landed approximately 800 miles southeast of Cape Canaveral in the vicinity of Grand Turk Island. Mission duration from launch to impact was 4 hours, 55 minutes, and 23 seconds.
After John Glenn left NASA, He was a business executive from 1965 until his election to the United States Senate in November 1974, when he became a U.S. senator from the state of Ohio. Already famous as a highly decorated military pilot and astronaut when he arrived in the Senate in 1974, John Glenn sought to become a leader in government. Glenn represented Ohio for 25 years, until his retirement in 1999. As chairman of the Committee on Governmental Affairs he worked to make government more efficient. As a member of the Foreign Relations and Armed Services Committees he put his energies into the pursuit of a strong foreign policy. In 1976, he traveled to China with Senate Majority Leader Mike Mansfield, a trip recalled in an interview with former Secretary of the Senate Frank Valeo. Glennís heart, however, remained with science, and he became known as a tireless advocate for science and health research. He was a senator for 25 years.
In 1998, John Glenn got to fly to space again. He flew with six other astronauts on the space shuttle. It had been 36 years since his first spaceflight. The new flight would help NASA learn what being in space does to older people. Because NASA knew so much about him, Glenn was perfect for the job.
STS-95 Discovery (October 29 to November 7, 1998) was a 9-day mission during which the crew supported a variety of research payloads including deployment of the Spartan solar-observing spacecraft, the Hubble Space Telescope Orbital Systems Test Platform, and investigations on space flight and the aging process. The mission was accomplished in 134 Earth orbits, traveling 3.6 million miles in 213 hours and 44 minutes. He was 77 years old when he flew on the shuttle. He was the oldest person to fly in space.
Glenn worked with college students at Ohio State University in Columbus.
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