Sym­bol of strength

US space leg­end John Glenn dies at 95

China Daily (Hong Kong) - - FRONT PAGE - By AGENCE FRANCEPRESSE in Colum­bus, Ohio

John Glenn, who made his­tory twice as the first US cit­i­zen to or­bit Earth and the first se­nior cit­i­zen to ven­ture into space, died on Thurs­day at the age of 95.

Glenn be­came a sym­bol of strength and the na­tion’s pi­o­neer­ing spirit, draw­ing ad­mir­ers from all walks of life over a long ca­reer in the mil­i­tary, then NASA, and the US Sen­ate.

He was cho­sen along with six other mil­i­tary pi­lots as part of the “Orig­i­nal Seven”, the very first class of US astro­nauts in 1959 whose saga was re­counted in the clas­sic movie The Right Stuff.

The US space agency NASA was among the first to pay trib­ute to the leg­endary as­tro­naut who went on to serve as a law­maker for more than two decades, call­ing him “a true Amer­i­can hero”.

Glenn died at the James Can­cer Hos­pi­tal in Colum­bus, Ohio, ac­cord­ing to Hank Wil­son, a spokesman for the John Glenn Col­lege of Public Af­fairs. The cause of death was not im­me­di­ately an­nounced.

“With John’s pass­ing, our na­tion has lost an icon,” said Pres­i­dent Barack Obama.

In de­clin­ing health

The for­mer as­tro­naut and vet­eran of two wars had been in de­clin­ing health, un­der­go­ing heart-valve re­place­ment surgery in 2014 and re­port­edly suf­fer­ing a stroke, and was hos­pi­tal­ized in Colum­bus more than a week be­fore he died.

“John is one of the best and bravest men I’ve ever known,” said Sec­re­tary of State John Kerry as he paid re­spects to his friend and for­mer col­league in the Sen­ate, call­ing him “an in­spi­ra­tion”.

Pres­i­dent-elect Don­ald Trump, who hap­pened to be in Colum­bus when Glenn’s death was an­nounced, paid his own trib­ute, telling a rally later in Iowa: “He was a gi­ant among men, and a true Amer­i­can leg­end.”

The first man to or­bit Earth was Rus­sia’s Yuri Ga­garin in 1961. On Feb 20, 1962, Glenn be­came the first US as­tro­naut to ac­com­plish the same feat, ut­ter­ing the mem­o­rable phrase: “Zero G and I feel fine.”

NASA VIA REUTERS

Guenter Wendt (right), the orig­i­nal pad leader for NASA’s manned space pro­gram, coaxes a smile out of John Glenn after the MA-6 mis­sion was scrubbed in Cape Canaveral, Florida.

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