Amer­i­can space legend John Glenn dead at 95

Kuwait Times - - HEALTH -

COLUM­BUS:

John Glenn, who made his­tory twice as the first Amer­i­can to or­bit Earth and the first se­nior cit­i­zen to ven­ture into space, died 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.” “God­speed, John Glenn. Ad as­tra,” NASA tweeted, echoing the fa­mous words ra­dioed by fel­low astro­naut Scott Car­pen­ter to Glenn be­fore he cir­cled the Earth in 1962. 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 and Michelle and I have lost a friend,” said Pres­i­dent Barack Obama.

“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,” he said. 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.”

“Though he soared deep into space and to the heights of Capi­tol Hill, his heart never strayed from his stead­fast Ohio roots,” said John Ka­sich, the gov­er­nor of Glenn’s mid­west­ern home state, in one of a stream of trib­utes flood­ing in for the na­tional hero. 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 Fe­bru­ary 20, 1962, Glenn be­came the first Amer­i­can to ac­com­plish the same feat, ut­ter­ing the mem­o­rable phrase: “Zero G and I feel fine.” Glenn’s flight lasted just un­der five hours and he cir­cled the Earth three times, as part of NASA’s Mer­cury project.

Thirty-six years later, on October 29, 1998, he made his­tory again when he re­turned to space at the age of 77 be­com­ing the old­est astro­naut in space. It was an­other shin­ing mo­ment in a ca­reer of trail­blaz­ing suc­cesses span­ning decades. Born July 18, 1921, in Cam­bridge, Ohio, Glenn joined the US Ma­rine Corps in 1943, be­com­ing a fighter pi­lot. —AFP

US astro­naut and sen­a­tor John Glenn Trail­blazer

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