Who was John Glenn?
John Herschel Glenn Jr., his full name, was born on July 18, 1921 in Cambridge, Ohio, USA. From the age of eight, he took his first flight in an airplane with his father, an American soldier who fought in World War I. From this initiation, young John was born a passion for aviation that would be maintained for years.
While in college, he began taking flying lessons through a program funded by the US government. He received his private pilot’s license in 1941. But he was forced to stop his studies when the United States declared war on Japan and officially entered World War II in late 1941.
John volunteered with the United States Air Force as a pilot but was unsuccessful. Instead he joined the United States Navy’s pilot training program in March 1942. After completing several solo flights, he transferred to the Marine Corps. During World War II, she flew no fewer than 59 missions in the South Pacific.
At the end of the war, John Glenn furthered his knowledge by pursuing training at a naval flying school. Awarded several medals for his missions in the Pacific, his career took a new turn in 1952 when the Korean War broke out.
John Glenn was sent to South Korea in February 1953. He flew a total of 90 missions to the scene, including 23 after transferring to a US Air Force unit. He will be awarded for his service in Korea.
How did John Glenn become an astronaut?
In 1954, when the Korean War had just ended, the American turned to training as a test pilot. Three years later, in July 1957, he set a new record by becoming the first to fly from the West Coast to the East Coast of the United States. A feat that earned him a small notoriety.
But it was in April 1959 that his space career began when he was recruited by NASA for the Mercury program, the American space agency’s first program aimed at sending men into space. John Glenn was one of the first seven astronauts selected from hundreds of applications after months of selection and testing. Alongside him are Alan Shepard, Scott Carpenter, Gordon Cooper, Gus Grissom, Wally Sheera and Deke Slayton.
John Glenn, the first American to orbit the Earth?
John Glenn is the oldest of the seven astronauts selected. He was 38 years old then. During the Mercury program’s first two manned missions, he was designated, to his great dismay, as a reserve for Alan Shepard and Virgil Grissom. The Mercury-Redstone 3 and Mercury-Redstone 4 missions took place in May and July 1961, respectively.
A few months later it was finally John Glenn’s turn when he was assigned to the crew of the Mercury-Atlas 6 mission. Unlike the first two, it aims to perform an orbital flight, in other words to deploy the capsule. in orbit around Earth, while Shepard and Grissom flew out of orbit.
Initially scheduled for December 1961, take off was postponed several times. Reports that allow training to be deepened and tests to be multiplied The mission’s launch finally took place on February 20, 1962. John Glenn is known as an Atlas launcher and capsule Friendship 7 From the Cape Canaveral base in Florida.
The mission was followed live by millions of Americans and went ahead as planned despite a failure in one of the control systems. The flight lasts 4 hours and 55 minutes during which the astronaut performs three orbits around the Earth before re-entering the Earth’s atmosphere and ending its run in the Atlantic Ocean.
With this mission, John became the third American to fly in space after Glenn Shepard and Grissom, the fifth man in space, and the first American to achieve an orbital flight around the Earth. It reaches a maximum height of 250 km for a total distance of over 121,000 km.
What did John Glenn do after his first space flight?
This successful mission allowed NASA to regain ground in the space race against the Soviet Union, which had taken the lead with Yuri Gagarin’s flight in April 1961. “The Cold War was very real, the USSR was expanding and technological superiority was unimaginable to the US, we had to catch up“, explained John Glenn, adopted by AFP.
The flight allowed the American to become a national hero. At 40, John Glenn is the oldest member of the astronaut team when he completes his historic mission. He left NASA in 1964 after President John F. Kennedy ordered that the prestigious astronaut not be returned to space, fearing an accident.
Over the next few years, he worked in the private sector and campaigned several times to become a senator. The first attempt was aborted by an accident, the second failed after Kennedy’s assassination. He was finally elected senator from Ohio in 1974, winning all 88 counties in the northern US state.
He won by a historic margin in 1980, the largest in Ohio history, and held his seat in 1986 and 1992. Meanwhile, he also made an unsuccessful bid for the White House in 1984.
Oldest person to go into space
John Glenn was still a senator when he went into space for the second time in 1998, 36 years after his orbital flight. On October 29, he participated in the STS-95 mission on the space shuttle discovery which takes off from the Kennedy Space Center in Florida. She was accompanied by five men and one woman, Chiaki Mukai, the first Japanese woman in space.
This nine-day orbital mission made the American, at age 77, the oldest person to go into space. A record he still held until recently but which was beaten twice in 2021 by Wally Funk and William Shatner, aged 82 and 90 respectively. This achievement also brought him new awards.
In 1999, NASA honored John Glenn by renaming the research center in Cleveland, Ohio, after him. President Barack Obama also awarded him the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the United States’ highest civilian award, in 2012 and named him “A hero in every sense of the word“
John Glenn was married, with two children and two grandchildren. He died on December 8, 2016 in Columbus, Ohio. Soon after her death many personalities including Barack Obama paid tribute to her memory. “John has always represented the best, inspiring generation of scientists, engineers and astronauts who will take us to Mars and beyond.“, the President said in a press release.
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