John Glenn’s re­mains es­corted through Queen Anne’s County

Record Observer - - News -

CEN­TRE­VILLE — The re­mains of Col. John Glenn were es­corted through Queen Anne’s County on Thurs­day, April 6, by Mary­land State Po­lice deputies trav­el­ing from Dover Air Force Base en­route to Ar­ling­ton Na­tional Ceme­tery in Vir­ginia.

The es­cort passed Route 19 and U.S. 301 at about 6:45 a.m. and left Kent Is­land to cross the Ch­e­sa­peake Bay Bridge about 7:45 a.m. Lo­cal fire­fight­ers and res­i­dents turned out at both Route 19 and the Route 8 over­pass on Kent Is­land to pay their re­spects as the con­voy passed.

For­mer as­tro­naut and United States Sen­a­tor John Glenn died Dec. 8, 2016, at the Ohio State Univer­sity Wexner Med­i­cal Cen­ter in Colum­bus.

Glenn, who served four terms as a U.S. sen­a­tor from Ohio, was one of NASA’s orig­i­nal seven Mer­cury as­tro­nauts. His flight on Friend­ship 7 on Feb, 20, 1962, showed the world that Amer­ica was a se­ri­ous con­tender in the space race with the Soviet Union. It also made Glenn an in­stant hero.

His mis­sion of al­most nine days on the space shut­tle or­biter Dis­cov­ery, launched Oc. 29, 1998, when he was 77, made him the old­est hu­man to ven­ture into space. On Dis­cov­ery he par­tic­i­pated in a se­ries of tests on the ag­ing process. The ag­ing pop­u­la­tion was one fo­cus of his work as a U.S. sen­a­tor.

Glenn will al­ways be re­mem­bered as the first Amer­i­can to or­bit the Earth dur­ing those ten­ta­tive, chal­leng­ing, dar­ing days when hu­mans were just be­gin­ning to ven­ture beyond the at­mos­phere that had nur­tured them since the species be­gan.

While Glenn’s flight on Friend­ship 7 was a glo­ri­ous na­tional tri­umph, prob­lems arose that could have spelled dis­as­ter. The first was a fail­ure of the au­to­matic con­trol sys­tem.

A sched­uled 30-minute test to de­ter­mine whether Glenn could fly the cap­sule man­u­ally be­came a mat­ter of life and death when the au­to­matic sys­tem went out at the end of the first or­bit.

“I went to man­ual con­trol and con­tin­ued in that mode dur­ing the sec­ond and third or­bits, and dur­ing re-en­try,” Glenn re­called later. He had been con­fi­dent he could do it. “The mal­func­tion just forced me to prove very rapidly what had been planned over a longer pe­riod of time.”

Another prob­lem seemed even more se­ri­ous — teleme­try in­di­cated the space­craft’s heat shield was loose. It seemed pos­si­ble that Glenn and the space­craft would be in­cin­er­ated on re-en­try. Much of the world held its breath.

Glenn left the retro­rocket pack in place to steady the heat shield dur­ing re-en­try. “It made for a very spec­tac­u­lar re-entr y from where I was sit­ting,” he said. Big chunks of the burn­ing ma­te­rial came fly­ing by the win­dow.

He wasn’t sure whether the flam­ing de­bris was the rocket pack or the heat shield break­ing up. “For­tu­nately,” he told an in­ter­viewer,” it was the rocket pack, or I wouldn’t be an­swer­ing these ques­tions.”

PHOTO BY DOUG BISHOP

The pro­ces­sion of po­lice ve­hi­cles from Dover Air Force Base es­cort­ing the re­mains of U.S. Sen­a­tor/as­tro­naut/Marine John Glenn passes un­der the Route 8 over­pass along Route 50/301 in Steves­nville, with the Kent Is­land Vol­un­teer Fire Depart­ment lad­der truck post­ing a large Amer­i­can flag, Thurs­day, April 6, at ex­actly 7:15 a.m.

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