The first American to orbit Earth in 1962, war hero (World War II and Korea), astronaut, and senator John Herschel Glenn, Jr. (1921-) was born on this day in Cambridge, Ohio and earned his private pilot's license at age 20.
"I was sold on flying as soon as I had a taste for it," he said.
Glenn's historic flight in the Friendship 7 Mercury space capsule lasted 4 hours 55 minutes from launch to landing.
"I don't know what you could say about a day in which you have seen four beautiful sunsets," he shared about the remarkable orbital experience.
Turning to politics, in 1974, Glenn was elected to the U.S. Senate where he served for 24 years. In October 1998, the man with the "right stuff" made history again at age 77, returning to space to become the oldest space traveler aboard the Space Shuttle Discovery.
"Space travel is at the frontier of my profession," he once said.
As the nine-day mission orbited the earth 134 times, Glenn conducted research on space flight and the aging process.
"To look out at this kind of creation out here and not believe in God is to me impossible," Glenn said following the flight. "It just strengthens my faith. I wish there were words to describe what it's like."
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