NASA Pioneer John Glenn Passes Away at Age of 95, First American to Orbit Planet Earth

Dec 09, 2016 10:10 AM EST

Former US Senator and famed NASA astronaut, John Glenn has died at the age of 95. In a report by The Columbus Dispatch, Glenn had been hospitalized at the Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center in Columbus. Reasons for his hospitalization were not disclosed.

Glenn gained popularity after his February 1962 Friendship 7 Mission. He was the first American to orbit planet Earth. Before him, four other people had been sent out to space, two of which were also Americans. Unlike Glenn's full orbit of the earth, the four astronauts only performed suborbital flights. Glenn's trip had paved the way for human exploration in space.

"Senator Glenn's legacy is one of risk and accomplishment, of history created and duty to country carried out under great pressure with the whole world watching," stated NASA Administrator Charles Bolden, adding, "The entire NASA Family will be forever grateful for his outstanding service, commitment and friendship."

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Glenn was the last surviving member of the Mercury Seven group, which marks the end of an era. Other members include Scott Carpenter, Gus Grissom, Gordon Cooper, Deke Slayton, Wally Schirra, and Alan Shepard.

During the mission for Friendship 7, Glenn had orbited planet earth approximately three times in just under five hours. In his memoir, Glenn described the sunset from his orbit as "spectacular" and that it was "an understatement for the few second's view."

In the year 1998, Glenn was one of the oldest people to head into space. He was selected as a crew member for the SGS-95, Space Shuttle Discovery. The nine-day mission involved crew members conducting medical experiments on Glenn to study the effects of space on the human body.

As a tribute to the pioneer, former President Barack Obama had released the following statement:

"With John's passing, our nation has lost an icon and Michelle and I have lost a friend. John spent his life breaking barriers, from defending our freedom as a decorated Marine Corps fighter pilot in World War II and Korea, to setting a transcontinental speed record, to becoming, at age 77, the oldest human to touch the stars. John always had the right stuff, inspiring generations of scientists, engineers and astronauts who will take us to Mars and beyond -- not just to visit, but to stay. ..."

Glenn was married to former Annie Margaret Castor of New Concord, Ohio. The pair married in 1943 and had a daughter, Lyn, a son, Dave, and two grandkids.

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