John Glenn, first American to orbit the Earth, has died at 95

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John Glenn, the first American to orbit the Earth and the oldest human to travel into space, died today at 95 years old.

Glenn was hospitalized over a week ago at the The James Cancer Hospital at The Ohio State University, although it is unclear what his specific illness was. The Ohio State University confirmed his death in a public release.

 “The Ohio State University community deeply mourns the loss of John Glenn, Ohio’s consummate public servant and a true American hero. He leaves an undiminished legacy as one of the great people of our time.” Ohio State University President Dr. Michael V. Drake.

Glenn was a Marine Corps fighter pilot who served in World War II and the Korean war. As a skilled pilot, he and six other military test pilots were selected to join the U.S. Space Program and were known as the Mercury Seven. Glenn was the last living member of this group.

The seven Mercury astronauts were (from left) Wally Schirra, Alan Shepard, Deke Slayton, Gus Grissom, John Glenn, Gordon Cooper and Scott Carpenter / Image courtesy of NASA

The seven Mercury astronauts were (from left) Wally Schirra, Alan Shepard, Deke Slayton, Gus Grissom, John Glenn, Gordon Cooper and Scott Carpenter / Image courtesy of NASA

Glenn became an American hero when he circled the planet on February 20th, 1962, completing three full orbits on a mission lasting nearly five hours. After this milestone, President John F. Kennedy presented him with the NASA Distinguished Service medal.

Thirty-six years later, at the age of 77, Glenn became the oldest person to fly in space when he served on the space shuttle Discovery mission on October 29th, 1998.

Between his milestone flights, Glenn served as a U.S. Senator (D-Ohio), taking office in 1974. After 25 years, and one year after his last mission to space, Glenn retired from the Senate. That same year, NASA renamed their research center, located in Cleveland, Ohio, the NASA John H. Glenn Research Center.

Glenn will be remembered for his service to his country and for his historic flights in the American space program.

 “The state of Ohio, the nation and the world lost a hero. We at the Glenn College and The Ohio State University lost a friend.” Dr. Trevor Brown, dean of the John Glenn College of Public Affairs.

Featured Image: NASA