Thursday, April 6, 2017

Honoring John Glenn

Spaceman John Glenn on his day in space

Friendship 7  orbiting capsule
The United States was behind in the Space Race against the Soviet Union. Three of the four Atlas rockets test rockets blew up before achieving orbit. The orbiting vehicle  was space capsule which  had the leg room of a Volkswagon Beetle with the aesthetic of a garbage can.  

Still NASA astronaut John Glenn braved the dangers of flying an prototype space vehicle in Friendship 7 on February 20, 1962 and orbited the Earth three times.

Mission Control believed that there was a problem with the heat shield which might cause Glenn to burn up on re-entry. Thus the flight protocol was changed on the fly and Glenn would have to make a manual splashdown. As it turned out, it was merely a malfunctioning gauge. The only harm to Glenn was that the pressure from blowing the hatch slightly cut the astronaut's knuckles through his gloves.

Despite the harried re-entry, the experienced NASA test pilot was poetic in recalling his time in space, harkening to the joy of seeing four sunsets in one day. Later, Glenn was received as a hero in Wall Street with a massive ticker-tape parade, larger than the celebration for Charles Lindberg's flight across the Atlantic. 

Glenn had intended to run for the US Senate in 1964 but had a withdraw due to a concussion. Glenn served as a Senator from Ohio from 1974 to 1999. 

In 1998, Glenn again flew into space on the Discovery Space Shuttle at age 77 to serve as a human guinea pig on geriatrics in space. Glenn is the oldest person to go into space.

Senator John Glenn died at age 95  on December 8, 2016 at Ohio State University's James Cancer Center. Glenn was buried at Arlington National Cemetery on April 6, 2017.

Requiem in pacem ad astra 

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