Born in Cambridge, Ohio, on July 18, 1921, and raised in New Concord, Ohio, John Hershel Glenn, Jr., graduated with a bachelor's of science degree in engineering from Muskingum College (New Concord, Ohio) in 1942. Over his lifetime, Glenn has received nine honorary doctoral degrees from various colleges and universities.
Through the Naval Aviation Cadet Program, Glenn obtained a commission in the U.S. Marine Corps in 1943. He flew combat missions in World War II (1939-1945) and the Korean War (1950-1953). After Korea, Glenn attended Navy test pilot school and joined the Naval Bureau of Aeronautics' Fighter Design Branch in Washington, D.C. In 1957, he set a transcontinental speed record, averaging supersonic speeds in flying from Los Angeles to New York.
In 1959, Glenn was chosen to be a member of the first group of astronauts for the U.S. space agency National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA). On February 20, 1962, he became the first American astronaut to orbit Earth (and the third person in space) in the Friendship 7 space capsule of the Mercury 6 mission. In January 1963, Glenn specialized in the design and development of spacecraft and flight control systems for Project Apollo. He retired from NASA and the Marine Corps as a colonel in 1964 in order to run for political office in his home state of Ohio. Glenn was unable to continue his campaign when he was injured in a home accident. He, subsequently, became an executive for Royal Crown Cola. Later, in November 1974, he was elected a U.S. senator from Ohio.
Glenn attempted to run as Jimmy Carter's vice president in 1976 but Minnesota senator Walter Mondale was selected instead as Carter's running mate. In 1984, Glenn campaigned to become president of the United States but withdrew early on in the Democratic campaign process.
During his terms in the U.S. Senate, Glenn was the chair of the Committee of Government Affairs (1987-1995), and was a member of the following committees: Foreign Relations, Armed Services, and Special Committee on Aging. He retired from the Senate in 1999, after serving four terms.
On October 29, 1998, at the age of seventy-seven years, and after 24 years in the U.S. Senate, Glenn returned to space aboard the space shuttle >Discovery (STS-95) for a nine-day mission investigating, among other things, the relationship between spaceflight (specifically weightlessness) and the aging process. At this time, he become the oldest person ever to fly in space.
Glenn has been award the Congressional Space Medal of Honor (1978), the Distinguished Flying Cross (six times), and the Woodrow Wilson Award for Public Service (2004), and is a member of the Astronauts Hall of Fame (1990). In 1998, the John Glenn Institute for Public Service and Public Policy was established at Ohio State University, in part with Glenn's help. It is now called the John Glenn School of Public Affairs. The NASA Lewis Research Center, in Ohio, was renamed the NASA John H. Glenn Research Center at Lewis Field on March 1, 1999.
American Astronaut and Senator.
Books and Articles
- Glenn, John. John Glenn: A Memoir. New York: Bantam Books, 1999.
- Raum, Elizabeth. John Glenn. Chicago: Heinemann Library, 2006.
- Tilton, Rafael. John Glenn. San Diego, CA: Lucent Books, 2001.
- John Glenn: A Journey. National Aeronautics and Space Administration, Glenn Research Center. <http://www.nasa.gov/centers/glenn/about/bios/john_glenn.html> (accessed October 18, 2011).
- John Herschel Glenn Jr. National Aeronautics and Space Administration, Johnson Space Center. <http://www11.jsc.nasa.gov/Bios/htmlbios/glenn-j.html> (accessed October 18, 2011).
- John H. Glenn Jr. Astronaut Scholarship Foundation. <http://www.astronautscholarship.org/glenn.html> (accessed October 18, 2011).