I remember the last time John Glenn flew into space... It was on October 29, 1998, and I rushed back to my dorm after a class (it was my first semester in college) to watch the launch of shuttle Discovery on television. John Glenn was a payload specialist on this flight (STS-95), and he was going to embark on an 8-day mission that involved gaining a better understanding of the effects of microgravity on the human body. Even though this seemed like a routine shuttle flight, everyone knew that it was historic—as it was an American hero's return to space after a 36-year absence from the final frontier. Farewell, Mr. Glenn... Along with Alan Shepard, Neil Armstrong, Sally Ride and other space pioneers, you now belong to the ages. Ad astra.
NASA Remembers American Legend John Glenn (Press Release)
The following is a statement from NASA Administrator Charles Bolden on the passing of Sen. John Glenn:
“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."