John Glenn, the first American to orbit the Earth, died today. Just a few minutes ago I received the call from my mom letting me know this. At the time, I had just fired up a game, wanting to relax a little before work. I noticed she called as I loaded the game up, and left a voice mail. When I listened to it, I nearly dropped my phone in shock.
I had heard about Glenn being admitted to the hospital, and naturally worried about his health, and hoped he we wouldn’t lose him. Sadly, this was his time, as they say. Upon hearing the news, as you would expect, I got sick. John Glenn was a member of the original Mercury 7, those 7 men chosen in to be the first Americans in space. These are people I care about, true heroes to me growing up.
It isn’t just his Mercury flight that made him beloved by so many of us: at the age of 77, in 1998, he flew on STS-95, a flight of the Space Shuttle Discovery, making him the oldest person to fly into space. Interestingly, I was in middle school at this time and we got to watch this launch live. I think I was the only person who even understood, or much cared about this, and I certainly was the only person who understood how the shuttle got into orbit, but that’s not the point here – the fact remains, at 77 years old the man flew into orbit again for a 9 day mission, far beyond his 5 hour long 3 orbit mission in 1962. Still, his 1962 flight is one worth studying on its own, for both his “fireflies” as well as the heat shield issue.
Following his original flight, he retired from NASA, eventually pursuing a political career, a United States senator for Ohio from 1974 to 1999. His political history is a rather interesting chain of events, but I won’t get into that here, as that isn’t my focus.
Glenn was also a World War 2 and Korean War veteran. It’s odd that, in my last article, I was just writing about us losing veterans as time moves forwards. This is, sadly, a prime example of this. John Glenn, war veteran, last of the Mercury 7, first American to orbit the Earth, and oldest human to go into space.
It should also be worth mentioning, incidentally, that back in 2010 while thrifting I found a framed photo of a Space Shuttle launch. I would later discover that this image was of the launch of STS-95, Glenn’s return to flight. Also, more recently, I would come across a small Mercury capsule model, with a parachute, and what capsule would it be other than Glenn’s flight, Friendship 7.
I could say more, I could go into detail, but I just wanted to quickly share my thoughts, I guess.
Godspeed, John Glenn.