If ever there was a high flier, it was John Herschel Glenn Jr. In 1962, Glenn became the first American to orbit the earth, after Russian cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin achieved the feat in April 1961. Glenn’s achievement redeemed the USA’s reputation in the field of space technology. Before that the aviator, engineer and astronaut, who passed away last week at the age of 95, had served as a fighter pilot both in World War II and in Korea.Since Glenn’s expedition into space there have been countless others, but it was the war hero’s successful attempt—he had circled the earth across the three orbits in a time span of just five hours—that helped the US send out the Apollo missions and that allowed man to walk on the moon several years later.
Among the first astronauts of the US space programme, NASA, Glenn, a military pilot, also was the first person to complete a supersonic transcontinental flight in 1957 and then became the oldest person 50 years later to venture into space. A popular politician who successfully entered politics in 1974, Glenn was able to hold onto his senate seat as a democrat nominee for over 25 years. While he also contested first as a vice-president and then as a presidential nominee in 1984, Glenn never shrank in people’s estimation, even though he didn’t get the nomination. No doubt, a true American hero, Glenn would be remembered as a larger than life persona, and “The Right Stuff”—Tom Wolfe’s book about the pilots engaged in space exploration, which had Glenn as one of the research subject—for America.