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Sunday, November 8, 1998 Published at 14:53 GMT


The legend has landed

John Glenn says he feels fine

Safe landing of Space Shuttle Discovery
The world's oldest astronaut, John Glenn, will talk about his nine days in space aboard the Space Shuttle Discovery at a news conference on Sunday.

Mr Glenn, and his six crew mates, made a safe landing at Kennedy Space Centre, Florida, on Saturday, after travelling more than 3 million miles in space.

A press conference was planned for Saturday, but it was put off until Sunday on the advice of Nasa's chief doctor, Philip Stepaniak.

He said the conference would have added an unnecessary strain on the astronauts at the end of a long day,

[ image: John Glenn emerges from a crew transport vehicle - in high spirits]
John Glenn emerges from a crew transport vehicle - in high spirits
Dr Stepaniek said initial physical examinations indicated that Mr Glenn and the other crew members were all doing better than expected, describing Mr Glenn as being animated and in high spirits.

He was able to walk unaided down the steps before being reunited with his family.

Mr Glenn even found the energy to call out on the communications link moments after landing, recalling his previous return to earth.

"This is PS2, I'm better known to a lot of you as John," he said.

John Glenn: "One-g and I feel fine"
"I want to reprise a statement that I made a long, long time ago, except this time it is: One-G and I feel fine."

Mission Control said that Discovery had completed a trip of 3.6 million miles and "a moment in history".

Nasa had put Edwards Air Base in California on stand-by in case of bad weather on the east coast.

Ishbel Matheson: A jubilant return to Earth
In the event the shuttle made a perfectly smooth landing.

There was also concern that a parachute, used to slow the shuttle down on landing, may open early.

The drag chute is not essential for landing and there were safeguard procedures for the crew if it had opened ahead of schedule.

The potential problem arose because a compartment door at the rear of Discovery fell off as the space shuttle blasted into space.

[ image: Spashdown in 1962 for Glenn]
Spashdown in 1962 for Glenn
In 1962, Mr Glenn was the first American to orbit the Earth and became a national hero. His presence on the latest shuttle fired the imagination of the world.

More than 250,000 people gathered around Kennedy Space Centre to watch the launch. From VIP seats inside the base President Bill Clinton and a host of Hollywood saw the misson blast off.

Mr Glenn has been taking part in a series of experiments, including assessing the effects of weightlessness on the body.

Scientists hope to use the results of the experiments for research into the ageing process.

When Mr Glenn blasted off with six other astronauts he was the Democrat senator for Ohio.

Following the US mid-term elections, in which Mr Glenn retired as senator, he returns merely as an "American legend".

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Nasa TV - live coverage of Discovery's mission

Nasa's John Glenn page

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