John Glenn, the First American to Orbit the Earth, Dies at 95

Thursday, 08 December 2016 - 5:20PM
Space
Thursday, 08 December 2016 - 5:20PM
John Glenn, the First American to Orbit the Earth, Dies at 95
John Glenn, one of the first American astronauts, US Senator, and last surviving member of the Mercury Seven, has passed away at age 95. He was admitted to the hospital last week, and died this afternoon with family of friends. The cause of death is not yet known to the public. 

Glenn was an all-around American hero throughout his long life. He enlisted in the US Navy as a pilot during World War II, and went on to serve in 149 combat missions in two wars (WWII and the Korean War). As a test pilot after his service, he was the first to complete a supersonic transcontinental flight, and became a bona fide aviation legend. 

In 1958, he was selected as one of the Mercury 7, the first group of astronauts for the newly formed NASA (who were the inspiration for the acclaimed film The Right Stuff). He went on to become the first American to orbit the Earth in the Friendship 7, which also made him the third American in space and the fifth human in space ever.

After he resigned from NASA, he ran for U.S. Senator in Ohio as a Democrat, but had to withdraw from the campaign after suffering a concussion. After a few tries, he finally won in 1974 and served until 1999. He was also considered for the Democratic candidate for President of the United States. 

And if that weren't enough, he returned to space in 1998, while still a sitting senator. This mission made him the oldest person to travel to space at age 77. He also received some of the highest honors there are, including the Congressional Space Medal of Honor in 1978, an induction into the U.S. Astronaut Hall of Fame in 1990, and the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2012. Author Tom Wolfe, who wrote the book The Right Stuff, has called him "the last true national hero America has ever had."
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