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Thursday, January 15, 1998 Published at 22:58 GMT


To oldly go ...
image: [ John Glenn on his first journey into space ]
John Glenn on his first journey into space

John Glenn wants to go (16")
Astronaut and politician John Glenn, 76, is to return to space - 36 years after his first mission.

Buzz Aldrin, second man on the moon, backs John Glenn's plans (37")
Nasa has confirmed that the first American to orbit Earth has been lined up to be the oldest person to go into space when he joins a shuttle flight in October.

[ image: Last time it was this rocket...]
Last time it was this rocket...
Glenn flew his last mission in 1962 and became a national hero. Until then the US was losing the space race to the Russians.

Glenn's mission will contravene the wishes of the late President Kennedy, who said he should not return to space because of his huge popularity on Earth.

[ image: John Glenn's bid for the White House failed in 1984]
John Glenn's bid for the White House failed in 1984
He used that popularity to good effect by going into politics and has been Ohio's senator for 23 years.

In 1984 he aimed for the Moon politically but was unsuccessful in a bid to become the Democratic presidential nominee.

Senator Glenn is due to retire from politics this year and has made no secret of his desire to go back into space.

[ image: Shuttle mission planned for October]
Shuttle mission planned for October
He wants to study the effects of weightlessness on the ageing process.

"Nasa's looking at the scientific base right now for this," he said. "Would I like to kick off that whole new area of research? yes I would."

Although some scientists are questioning the value of putting a 76-year-old in space, it looks almost certain that Glenn will board a shuttle in October.

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