John Glenn, the first American to orbit earth
In 1962 John Glenn was the first American to orbit the earth. After the first two Soviet astronauts, he was the third in the world to orbit the earth. He orbited 3 times around the earth and returned safely. After retiring from NASA during the period of 1974 to 1999 he served as a Democratic United States senator from Ohio. But at the age of 77, in 1998 again he got the chance to fly to space.
Before NASA and space, he was a successful fighter pilot during world war 2. In 1957, he made the first supersonic transcontinental flight across the United States. It’s his onboard camera which took the first continuous panoramic photo of the US.
In 1959 NASA selected him as one of the nation’s first astronauts in Mercury Seven which are also referred to as Original Seven and Astronaut Group 1.
On Feb 20, 1962, Friendship 7 lifted off from Cape Canaveral, and he became the first American to orbit the earth. His mission had lots of complications that even put his life in danger. But luckily he returned to earth safely after 4 hours and 55-minute flight and landed in the sea, 1,290 km southeast of Cape Canaveral.
Glenn flew on Space Shuttle Discovery’s STS-95 mission at the age of 77, in 1998. This made him the oldest person to fly in space and also the only person to fly in both Mercury and Space Shuttle programs.
Being the oldest and last surviving member of Mercury Seven, he died at the age of 95 in 2016.
- NASA Distinguished Service Medal in 1962
- Congressional Space Medal of Honor in 1978
- U.S. Astronaut Hall of Fame in 1990
- Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2012