Astronaut John Glenn's historic return to space

roryanne muldrake By roryanne muldrake, 29th Oct 2010 | Follow this author | RSS Feed | Short URL
Posted in Wikinut>News>Science

Anniversary of John Glenn's historic record-breaking return to space.

Twelve years ago today...

On October 29, 1998, John Glenn became the oldest person to travel into space aboard the space shuttle Discovery.

Born on July 18, 1921, in Cambridge, Ohio, John Glenn was predestined to fly from a young age. In school, he was an honor student and a star player in football, basketball, and tennis.

As a boy, John Glenn built and flew model airplanes. When the models crashed, he repaired them and flew them again. After graduating from high school, Glenn joined the Marines and served in both WWII and in the Korean War, where he flew in one-hundred and twenty-two combat missions.

After the Korean War, Glenn attended the Navy Test Pilot School at Patuxent River. While on duty at Patuxent, the Naval Air Development Center at Johnsville, Pennsylvania, assigned Glenn to test a large centrifuge and to evaluate data obtained while under high G forces. During the assignment, Glenn replicated the environment pilots would go through as they made a re-entry from space. He was also involved in helping to design the Mercury capsule for NASA.

On July 16, 1957, he set a transcontinental speed record in a supersonic jet, travelling from New York to Los Angeles in three hours and twenty-three minutes. Two years later, NASA chose John Glenn as one of seven men to be America's first astronauts.

In the book, Moon Shot ©, written by two fellow astronauts Alan Shepard and Deke Slayton, they referred to the sort of pilot John Glenn was. During the war, they said mechanics often declared Glenn's aircraft to be in such bad shape that they were unfit to fly. Yet, Glenn returned from every mission without injury.

Mercury 6 - Friendship 7

Glenn's first spaceflight was onboard Friendship 7 in February of 1962, for NASA's Mercury Project. He became the first American to orbit the earth. The spacecraft went into a low orbit using the craft's guidance systems. NASA devised the systems to keep the capsule in an upright position.

One tracking station over Mexico, monitoring Glenn's flight, picked up a signal that showed the spacecraft fluctuating to the right. He controlled the spacecraft manually to retain the proper bearing. John Glenn orbited the earth three times, each orbit lasting for ninety minutes.

John Glenn Returns to Space

Glenn returned to space as a payload specialist aboard the Space Shuttle Discovery (STS-95) on October 29, 1998. Glenn took part in experiments intended to help scientists better understand the effects of aging. These experiments would help astronauts prepare for long-duration space flights planned to Mars and beyond.

In total, John Glenn logged more than nine days in space. He served his country; explored the universe, and shared his knowledge and experience with other astronauts. Glenn broke records while spending a large portion of his life airborne.

The US Armed Forces awarded John Glenn the Distinguished Flying Cross six times. This is a medal awarded for acts of heroism or extraordinary achievement while participating in aerial flight.

He is a true American hero, having encircled the globe one-hundred and thirty-seven times. There is no telling where he will head next.

Photos courtesy of NASA


John Glenn, Nasa, Space Travel, Us Astronauts

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author avatar roryanne muldrake
published writer; now working at home; currently writing for Helium and Examiner

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