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EDITIONS
John Glenn Wednesday, 21 October, 1998, 08:43 GMT 09:43 UK
Meteoric rise into space
Glenn dreaming of being above the Earth
Glenn dreaming of being above the Earth
John Glenn became a US Navy cadet in 1942 and flew 59 combat missions during World War II. After the war he continued flying and set a transcontinental speed record when he flew a supersonic aircraft from Los Angeles to New York in 3 hours 20 minutes.

He became one of the original seven astronauts selected for the Mercury missions and before his flight served as back-up for the first two sub-orbital missions.

After his famous journey around the Earth in 1962, Glenn became the all-American hero but he suffered the same fate Yuri Gagarin, the first man in space - he was grounded for life.

At the height of the Cold War he symbolised American power to compete with the USSR in a highly politicised space race.

After his flight he was briefly involved in the planning for the Apollo Moon landings but, banned from flying further missions, he resigned from the space programme in 1964 and from the Marines the following year.

Glenn turned his attention to business and politics and soon became a millionaire. He ran for the senate representing Ohio in 1964 and 1970 without success. In 1974, the former astronaut succeeded in entering the US Senate and has been there ever since.

Glenn's senate portrait
Glenn's senate portrait
In 1984 Senator Glenn ran for president but his campaign never really got started and cost him a punishing $3 million.

As a senator he is universally respected as an authority on science and technology issues. He has played a key role in many nuclear disarmament treaties.

With regular Space Shuttle trips become a fact of living in the Nineties, Glenn's thoughts turned once more to space. For many years he kept his desire a secret but in 1996 he began talking to Nasa and scientists about what he could do in space at his age.

With Glenn's mission into space at the age of 77 getting old will never be the same again.

As for growing old he says, "I think a lot of people hit the age of an arbitrary 60 or so and think that they are supposed to phase out of things."

I have never looked at it that way. One of my neighbours back in Washington has a mother who says her objective is to burn out not rust out, and I guess that is a pretty good way to look at life."

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