Friday, December 9, 2016


JFK+50:  Volume 7, No. 2154


Columbus, Ohio (JFK+50) John Glenn*, the first American to orbit the Earth and four-term United States Senator from Ohio died yesterday at the Ohio State Cancer Center here in Columbus at the age of 95.

On February 20, 1962, Glenn lifted off aboard the Friendship 7 Mercury space capsule at 9:47 a.m. Eastern time with 100,000 people watching on the ground and millions on television.

While his three orbits were not without some technical issues, the Friendship 7 re-entered the earth's atmosphere and splashed down in the Atlantic Ocean where it was retrieved by a helicopter from the USS Noa.  The flight lasted almost five hours.  John Faherty of the Cincinnati Enquirer says that the five hour flight "changed the space race and restored American pride.*"

Fellow astronaut Scott Carpenter wrote...

"The flight was a monumental triumph for NASA and the United States.  It served notice to the Soviets that we were in this competition for the long haul, and that we were breathing down their necks....and it created a new and national hero, whose image and charisma made anything he imagined possible."

President Kennedy watched the live television coverage of the flight of John Glenn at the White House and after the flight ended successfully said that John Glenn was...

"the type of American of whom we are most proud."***

After John Glenn left the Senate, he returned to space at the age of 77.  His mission on board the Space Shuttle Discovery in October 1998 made him the oldest person ever to travel in outer space.

*John Herschel Glenn, Jr. (1921-2016) was born in Cambridge & raised in New Concord, Ohio.  He studied engineering at Muskingum College & served in the USMC in WWII.  JHG flew combat missions over the Marshall Islands and 63 combat missions in the Korean War.  He graduated from the US Naval Test Pilot School in 1954 & was selected as one of the 1st 7 astronauts by NASA in 1959.

**The Soviet Union had led the space race since the launch of the first man-made earth satellite Sputnik, and had enhanced their lead with the success of the first manned orbital flight of cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin.

***JFK visited Cape Canaveral, Florida on February 23 and he pinned a medal on John Glenn.


"Astronaut, senator dead at 95, First American to orbit Earth never hesitated to serve his country," by John Faherty, The Cincinnati Enquirer, USA Today, December 9, 2016.

"Back In Orbit, John Glenn's Return to Space" by Scott Montgomery and Timothy R. Gaffney, Longstreet Press, Atlanta, Georgia, 1998.

JFK, John Glenn & General Leighton I. Davis
NASA Photo (1962)

John Glenn and Friendship 7
NASA Photo

John Glenn and JFK
Manned Spacecraft Center
Cape Canaveral, Florida
February 23, 1962
NASA Photographs