Former US astronaut, Senator John Glenn dead at 95: Columbus Dispatch

Dec 8 (Reuters) - John Glenn, who became one of the 20th century's greatest explorers as the first American to orbit Earth and later as the world's oldest astronaut, in addition to a long career as a U.S. senator, died on Thursday at age of 95.

Glenn was the last surviving member of the original seven "Right Stuff" Mercury astronauts.

"John Glenn is, and always will be, Ohio's ultimate hometown hero, and his passing today is an occasion for all of us to grieve," Ohio Governor John Kasich said in a statement.

Reactions to John Glenn's death

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Social media reaction to John Glenn's passing
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Social media reaction to John Glenn's passing
We are saddened by the loss of Sen. John Glenn, the first American to orbit Earth. A true American hero. Godspeed,… https://t.co/TroDhCAmEe
Obama statement on the passing of John Glenn https://t.co/toJ55QjGpN
Today we lost a great pioneer of air and space in John Glenn. He was a hero and inspired generations of future explorers. He will be missed.
We mourn the passing and celebrate the life of Senator John Glenn. His legacy of friendship and discovery will live… https://t.co/TSSlIJDmz6
Aren’t many Heroes left: WWII & Korean War Fighter Pilot. Marine Colonel. NASA Astronaut. Senator. Married 73 yrs. John Glenn RIP 1921-2016
As a boy, John Glenn lifted my eyes to the heavens. Today, they welcome him back.
Our friend John Glenn was a uniquely American hero and one of the finest men Hillary and I have ever known. https://t.co/EjYIfgUFka
The Corps lost a legend today. Col. John Glenn— an astronaut, a senator, a Marine— died at the age of 95. Semper… https://t.co/bFYwRaC8KS
Saddened to hear of the passing of a US hero/astronaut/statesman. His courage inspired a generation to explore & serve. Godspeed John Glenn
Saddened to hear of losing my friend and world space icon John Glenn. Here's my official statement.… https://t.co/rav5rmrQhs
John Glenn was a real explorer with real guts. He inspired the nation w/ his courage and dedication to public servi… https://t.co/DG2uBy4Yyz
Sad news, the true American hero has passed, I am honored to have known him, thinking of his family - thank you for… https://t.co/ph9Sr9c14A
https://t.co/XRN1DDMVqO
Saddened by the passing of #johnglenn, the first American to orbit the Earth. This is a tremendous loss for our nat… https://t.co/ToSFuL5MR5
Today, we join the world in mourning the passing of legendary astronaut, senator and Ohioan John Glenn.… https://t.co/TzFDM5f9Tu
Statement by former President @GeorgeHWBush on the passing of Senator John Glenn of Ohio. https://t.co/BugGLAHadg
RIP John Glenn. Ad Astra https://t.co/53TWVo1gAF
Godspeed John Glenn the best in war the best in peace the best in public service. Condolences to Annie the love of your life and the family
John Glenn’s humility and grace made his life achievements even more moving. Our hearts go out to his entire family. https://t.co/GjzAogv6Gy
An American treasure. Godspeed, John Glenn. https://t.co/zHNwVyujbx
John Glenn, one of the truly great explorers passed into the great unknown. May his spirit, whose restlessness expanded our horizons, RIP.
RIP John Glenn, and thanks for serving our country for so long in so many ways - always with The Right Stuff
John Glenn saw things no human being had ever seen before him. Imagine that.
RIP John Glenn, 95. War hero, Astronaut, Senator. A great American. https://t.co/aa0Y9WdWOR
The first American to orbit Earth, John Glenn illuminated a dark decade with inspiration https://t.co/2bscUZM4Gh
RIP #johnGlenn - his generation of astronauts were called "spam in a can" Glenn was so much more.
John and Annie have been a model for Jane and me, and we send our condolences to Annie & the Glenn family at this difficult time.
A man to admire: https://t.co/p9l9Gwx88m
John Glenn, a true hero, helped usher in a new era & inspired us all. A beloved senate colleague, he will be greatly missed.
"As I hurtled through space, one thought kept crossing my mind - every part of this rocket was supplied by the lowe… https://t.co/HmdsIc2Ndj
We are saddened to hear of the passing of John Glenn, a true pioneer of space. We salute his remarkable legacy. God… https://t.co/5w9PXztl2o
Former US Senator #JohnGlenn was a true hero. May he rest in the heavenly stars.
Condolences to the family of #JohnGlenn,American hero, former @NASA astronaut & US Senator from Ohio. He had… https://t.co/syL7NtS006
Godspeed, John Glenn (1921-2016): https://t.co/weKmIY3DFG
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Glenn died at the James Cancer Hospital at Ohio State University, said Hank Wilson, a spokesman at the university's John Glenn College of Public Affairs, which Glenn helped found.

Glenn was credited with reviving U.S. pride after the Soviet Union's early domination of manned space exploration. His three laps around the world in the Friendship 7 capsule on Feb. 20, 1962, forged a powerful link between the former fighter pilot and the Kennedy-era quest to explore outer space as a "New Frontier."

As the third of seven astronauts in NASA's solo-flight Mercury program to venture into space,Glenn became more of a media fixture than any of the others and was known for his composure and willingness to promote the program.

Glenn's astronaut career, as well as his record as a fighter pilot in World War Two and the Korean War, helped propel him to the U.S. Senate in 1974, where he represented his home state of Ohio for 24 years as a moderate Democrat.

John Glenn through the years

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John Glenn through the years
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John Glenn through the years
UNDATED FILE PHOTO - Sen. John Glenn could get a chance to prove he still has "the right stuff" if NASA decides to let him fly aboard the space shuttle, nearly 36 years after his landmark first space flight. NASA said it planned a "major announcement" on Friday, and Glenn, a 76-year-old former astronaut, grinned broadly when asked about reports that he would make the space voyage but offered no hints on January 15. Glenn is shown in his spacesuit in NASA photo taken in 1961 or 1962. SPACE GLENN
(Original Caption) 1962-Astronaut John H. Glenn undergoes last minute mediacl checks befoe the MA-6 launch.
(Original Caption) Ca. 1961-Cape Canaveral, Florida-Astronaut John H. Glenn, Jr., is checked out in his pressure suit before entering the procedures trainer at the Manned Spacecraft Center at the Langley Air Force Base, Virginia. Glenn, a Marine Lieutenant Colonel, was selected as the primary mission pilot for America's manned orbital flight scheduled for late 1961 or early 1962.
CAPE CANAVERAL, FL - February 20, 1962 - Astronaut John Glenn, Jr. photographed in space by an automatic sequence motion picture camera. Glenn was in a state of weightlessness traveling at 17,500 mph as this picture was taken.
Astronaut John Glenn (Photo by NASA/Roger Ressmeyer/Corbis/VCG via Getty Images)
CAPE CANAVERAL, FL - At NASA's hangar S, Astronaut John Glenn, Jr. is being suited in preparation for his earth orbital flight aboard Mercury Atlas 6. Feb.20, 1962.
PROJECT MERCURY -- Pictured: (l-r) Vice President Lyndon B. Johnson, the first American astronaut to orbit Earth John Glenn at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station for Glenn's presentation ceremony of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) Distinguished Service Medal on February 23, 1962 -- (Photo by: Fred Hermansky/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images)
UNITED STATES - FEBRUARY 26: Astronaut Lt. Col. John Glenn and wife in motorcade greet cheering fans on Pennsylvania Avenue. (Photo by Jack Clarity/NY Daily News Archive via Getty Images)
NATION'S FUTURE -- Pictured: American astronaut Colonel John Glenn (Photo by Bob Ganley/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images)
(Original Caption) 3/9/1962-Washington, D.C.- Lt. Col. John Glenn flashes his now famous smile after he was presented two military insignia here today, for his spacetrip around the earth. Glenn received the Navy's 'astronaut's wings' (on his left breast pocket flap) and the Marine Corps' 'astronaut's insignia' (on his right chest).
GREAT EXLPORATIONS WITH JOHN GLENN -- 'The Trail of Stanley and Livingstone' -- Pictured: Col. John Glenn for a documentary through Tanzania to retrace the 1871 route taken on Henry Morton Stanley's search for David Livingstone's missionary -- Photo by: Herb Ball/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images
During his campaign for the Democratic Presidential nomination, American politician and former astronaut Senator John Glenn (right) accepts a United States Space Camp cap and t-shirt from a young man at the US Space & Rocket Center, Huntsville, Alabama, January 11, 1984. (Photo Robert R. McElroy/Getty Images)
NEW YORK - SEPTEMBER 1: John Glenn and wife, Annie, pose for a photograph September 1, 1986 in New York City. (Photo by Yvonne Hemsey/Getty Images)
U.S. Sen. John H. Glenn Jr. (D.-Ohio), is assisted by suit experts Jean Alexander and Carlous Gillis prior to a training session at the Johnson Space Center (JSC). The STS-95 crew members are getting prepared for a scheduled Oct. 29 launch aboard the Space Shuttle Discovery.
UNITED STATES - JULY 22: Sen. John Glenn talks about Alan Shepard at a news conference at the Capitol after learning of his fellow astronaut's death. Glenn was Shepard's backup on the first U.S. space flight and will fly on a shuttle mission this fall. (Photo by Harry Hamburg/NY Daily News Archive via Getty Images)
(GERMANY OUT) Glenn, John Herschel *18.07.1921- Astronaut, USA - Halbportrait, im NASA-Overall - Februar 1999 (Photo by Bonn-Sequenz/ullstein bild via Getty Images)
UNITED STATES - JULY 27: Astronaut John Glenn during the Pledge of Allegiance at the Democratic National Convention 2004, in Boston, Ma.. (Photo By Chris Maddaloni/Roll Call/Getty Images)
NEW YORK - SEPTEMBER 24: Former astronaut John Glenn looks on at the Clinton Global Initiative (CGI) on September 24, 2009 in New York City. The Fifth Annual Meeting of the Clinton Global Initiative (CGI) looks to gather prominent individuals in politics, business, science, academics and religion to discuss global issues such as climate change and peace in the Middle East. The event, founded by former president Bill Clinton after he left office, is held the same week as the General Assembly at the United Nations as most world leaders are in New York. (Photo by Mario Tama/Getty Images)
John Glenn, former Marine Corps pilot, astronaut and U.S. Senator, left, receives the Presidential Medal of Freedom from U.S. President Barack Obama at the White House in Washington, D.C., U.S., on Tuesday, May 29, 2012. The Medal of Freedom is the nation's highest civilian honor. Photographer: Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg via Getty Images
CLEVELAND, OH - AUGUST 26: Astronaut and former Ohio Senator John Glenn throws out the first pitch prior to the game between the Cleveland Indians and the New York Yankees at Progressive Field on August 26, 2012 in Cleveland, Ohio. (Photo by Jason Miller/Getty Images)
Former Ohio Senator and NASA astronaut John Glenn and his wife Annie sit in the audience during the 2012 Clinton Global Initiative annual meeting September 23, 2012 in New York. AFP PHOTO/STEPHEN CHERNIN (Photo credit should read STEPHEN CHERNIN/AFP/GettyImages)
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But his star was dimmed somewhat by a Senate investigation of several senators on whether special favors were done for a major campaign contributor. He was cleared of wrongdoing.

Glenn's entry into history came in early 1961 when fellow astronaut Scott Carpenter bade him "Godspeed, John Glenn" just before the Ohio native was rocketed into space for a record-breaking trip that would last just under five hours.

"THAT VIEW IS TREMENDOUS"

"Zero-G (gravity) and I feel fine," was Glenn's succinct assessment of weightlessness several minutes into his mission. .".. Oh, and that view is tremendous."

After splashdown and recovery in the Atlantic, Glenn was treated as a hero, addressing a joint session of Congress and being feted in a New York ticker-tape parade.

The U.S space agency said on Twitter, "We are saddened by the loss of Sen. John Glenn, the first American to orbit Earth. A true American hero. Godspeed, John Glenn. Ad Astra." Ad Astra is Latin for "To the stars."

U.S. Senator Bill Nelson of Florida, who orbited Earth aboard space shuttle Columbia in 1986, said, "On top of paving the way for the rest of us, he was also a first-class gentleman and an unabashed patriot."

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Glenn's experiences as a pioneer astronaut were chronicled in the book and movie "The Right Stuff," along with the other Mercury pilots. The book's author, Tom Wolfe, called Glenn "the last true national hero America has ever had."

"I don't think of myself that way," Glenn told the New York Times in 2012 to mark the 50th anniversary of his flight. "I get up each day and have the same problems others have at my age. As far as trying to analyze all the attention I received, I will leave that to others."

Glenn's historic flight made him a favorite of President John Kennedy and his brother Robert, who encouraged him to launch a political career that finally took off after a period as a businessman made him a millionaire.

HERO STATUS

Even before his Mercury flight, Glenn qualified for hero status, earning six Distinguished Flying Crosses and flying more than 150 missions in World War Two and the Korean War.

After Korea, Glenn became a test pilot, setting a transcontinental speed record from Los Angeles to New York in 1957.

Related: NASA's best photos of 2016

21 PHOTOS
NASA's best photos of 2016
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NASA's best photos of 2016

Sunset From the International Space Station

Expedition 47 Flight Engineer Jeff Williams of NASA captured a series of photos for this composite image of the setting sun reflected by the ocean.

Photo Credit: NASA

Space Station Flight Over the Southern Tip of Italy

The southern tip of Italy is visible in this image taken by the Expedition 49 crew aboard the International Space Station on Sept. 17, 2016. The brightly lit city of Naples can be seen in the bottom section of the image. A Russian Soyuz spacecraft can be seen in the foreground.

Photo Credit: NASA

Star Trails Seen From Low Earth Orbit

Astronauts on the International Space Station captured a series of incredible star trail images on Oct. 3, 2016, as they orbited at 17,500 miles per hour. The station orbits the Earth every 90 minutes, and astronauts aboard see an average of 16 sunrises and sunsets every 24 hours.

Photo Credit: NASA

Many Fantastic Colors

The Nili Fossae region, located on the northwest rim of Isidis impact basin, is one of the most colorful regions of Mars. This region is ancient and has had a complicated geologic history, leading to interesting structures like layered bedrock, as well as other compositions.

Photo Credit: NASA

Wind Carved Rock on Mars

The distinctively fluted surface and elongated hills in this image in Medusae Fossae are caused by wind erosion of a soft fine-grained rock. Called yardangs, these features are aligned with the prevailing wind direction. This wind direction would have dominated for a very long time to carve these large-scale features into the exposed rock.

Photo Credit: NASA

Rains of Terror on Exoplanet HD 189733b

This Halloween, take a tour with NASA's Exoplanet Exploration site of some of the most terrifying destinations in our galaxy. The nightmare world of HD 189733 b is the killer you never see coming. To the human eye, this far-off planet looks bright blue. But any space traveler confusing it with the friendly skies of Earth would be badly mistaken.

Photo Credit: NASA

Aurora and Manicouagan Crater

An astronaut aboard the International Space Station adjusted the camera for night imaging and captured the green veils and curtains of an aurora that spanned thousands of kilometers over Quebec, Canada.

Photo Credit: NASA

Paris at Night

Around local midnight time on April 8, 2015, astronauts aboard the International Space Station took this photograph of Paris, often referred to as the “City of Light.” The pattern of the street grid dominates at night, providing a completely different set of visual features from those visible during the day.

Photo Credit: NASA

Stargazing From the International Space Station

Astronauts aboard the International Space Station (ISS) see the world at night on every orbit — that’s 16 times each crew day. An astronaut took this broad, short-lens photograph of Earth’s night lights while looking out over the remote reaches of the central equatorial Pacific Ocean.

Photo Credit: NASA

Election Day 2016

Thanks to a bill passed by Texas legislators that put in place technical voting procedure for astronauts, they have the ability to vote from space through specially designed absentee ballots. To preserve the integrity of the secret vote, the ballot is encrypted and only accessible by the astronaut and the county clerk responsible for casting it.

Photo Credit: NASA

Fiery South Atlantic Sunset

An astronaut aboard the International Space Station photographed a sunset that looks like a vast sheet of flame. With Earth’s surface already in darkness, the setting sun, the cloud masses, and the sideways viewing angle make a powerful image of the kind that astronauts use to commemorate their flights.

Photo Credit: NASA

Ring Details on Display

This view from NASA's Cassini spacecraft showcases some of the amazingly detailed structure of Saturn's rings.

Photo Credit: NASA

Hubble Takes Flight with the Toucan and the Cluster

NGC 299 is an open star cluster located within the Small Magellanic Cloud just under 200,000 light-years away.

Photo Credit: NASA

Hubble Spies Spiral Galaxy

Spiral galaxy NGC 3274 is a relatively faint galaxy located over 20 million light-years away in the constellation of Leo (The Lion).

Photo Credit: NASA

Practicing Orion Spacecraft Recovery After Splashdown

A group of U.S. Navy divers, Air Force pararescuemen and Coast Guard rescue swimmers practice Orion underway recovery techniques in the Neutral Buoyancy Laboratory at NASA’s Johnson Space Center to prepare for the first test flight of an uncrewed Orion spacecraft with the agency’s Space Launch System rocket during Exploration Mission (EM-1).

Photo Credit: NASA

A Trio of Plumes in the South Sandwich Islands

On September 29, 2016, the Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) on NASA’s Aqua satellite captured this false-color image (MODIS bands 7-2-1) showing volcanic activity in the South Sandwich Islands. Located in the South Atlantic Ocean, the uninhabited South Sandwich Islands include several active stratovolcanoes.

Photo Credit: NASA

Infrared Echoes of a Black Hole Eating a Star

This illustration shows a glowing stream of material from a star, disrupted as it was being devoured by a supermassive black hole. The feeding black hole is surrounded by a ring of dust. This dust was previously illuminated by flares of high-energy radiation from the feeding black hole, and is now shown re-radiating some of that energy.

Photo Credit: NASA

Hubble Views a Colorful Demise of a Sun-like Star

This star is ending its life by casting off its outer layers of gas, which formed a cocoon around the star's remaining core.

Credit: NASA

Infrared Saturn Clouds

This false-color view from NASA's Cassini spacecraft shows clouds in Saturn's northern hemisphere. The view was made using images taken by Cassini's wide-angle camera on July 20, 2016, using a combination of spectral filters sensitive to infrared light at 750, 727 and 619 nanometers.

Photo credit: NASA

Moonset Viewed From the International Space Station

Expedition 47 Flight Engineer Tim Peake of ESA took this striking photograph of the moon from his vantage point aboard the International Space Station on March 28, 2016. Peake shared the image on March 30 and wrote to his social media followers, "I was looking for #Antarctica – hard to spot from our orbit. Settled for a moonset instead."

Photo credit: NASA

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The determination and single-mindedness that marked Glenn's military and space career did not save him from misjudgments and defeat in politics. He lost his first bid for the Senate from Ohio in 1970, after abandoning a race in 1964 because of a head injury suffered in a fall.

He was elected in 1974 and was briefly considered as a running mate for Democratic presidential candidate Jimmy Carter in 1980. But a ponderous address at the Democratic National Convention - people walked out - caused Carter to remark that Glenn was "the most boring man I ever met."

Glenn sought the Democratic presidential nomination himself in 1984 but was quickly eliminated by eventual nominee Walter Mondale, Carter's vice president. His failure was all the more stinging because he had been touted as an early front-runner.

In the Senate, Glenn was respected as a thoughtful moderate with expertise in defense and foreign policy. But his career's luster was dulled by a Senate investigation of the "Keating Five" - five senators suspected of doing favors for campaign contributor Charles Keating Jr. The panel eventually found Glenn did nothing improper or illegal.

BACK TO SPACE

He took a leading role in seeking to prevent the spread of nuclear weapons, especially to Pakistan. He was the author of a law that forced the United States to impose sanctions on India and Pakistan in 1998 after both countries conducted nuclear tests.

He also was a staunch advocate of a strong military and took a keen interest in strategic issues. He retired from the Senate in 1999.

Thirty-six years after his maiden space voyage, Glenn became America's first geriatric astronaut on Oct. 29, 1998. He was 77 years old when he blasted off as a mission specialist aboard the shuttle Discovery. He saw it as a blow to stereotyping of the elderly.

"Maybe prior to this flight, we were looked at as old geezers who ought to get out of the way,"Glenn said after his nine-day shuttle mission. "Just because you're up in years some doesn't mean you don't have hopes and dreams and aspirations just as much as younger people do."

John Herschel Glenn Jr. was born on July 18, 1921, in Cambridge, Ohio. He married childhood sweetheart, Annie Castor, and they had two children, David and Lyn.

In his latter years he was an adjunct professor at the John Glenn College of Public Affairs, which he helped found at Ohio State University.

He had a knee replacement operation in 2011 and underwent heart surgery in 2014. (Reporting by Will Dunham in Washington; Editing by Bill Trott)

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