John Glenn: Introduction (01:06)
Glenn was the first American to orbit the Earth, the oldest person to travel in space, a war veteran, and a U.S. senator.
Glenn's Early Life (03:31)
Glenn became the oldest person to travel in space in October 1998. He was born in Ohio in 1921 and grew up in a small community. When the U.S. declared war on Japan, Glenn joined the Naval Aviation Cadet Program.
Fighter Squadron (03:18)
Glenn flew as often as possible while in flight school, accepted a commission in the Marine Corps, and married Annie Castor. He flew 59 combat missions over the Marshall Islands, served tours of duty in China and Guam, flew in combat during the Korean War, and set a transcontinental speed record in 1957.
Space Race (03:23)
The launch of Sputnik pushed NASA to top the Soviets in space and develop a manned space flight; military pilots were prime contenders to become astronauts.
Mercury Space Flight Program (04:38)
In April 1959, NASA introduced the seven men selected for the program. Alan Shepard and Gus Grissom were on the first Mercury flight, but Glenn became the first person to orbit the Earth. A heat shield problem made reentry dangerous.
National Hero (02:05)
Experts discuss the reaction of the American people and the Soviet response to Glenn's space flight. Glenn received accolades from President Kennedy and addressed Congress, but was subsequently grounded; he left NASA and retired from the Marine Corps.
Politics and Return to Space (02:30)
In 1974, Glenn won a senate seat in Ohio and served until 1997; he retired from politics after an unsuccessful bid for presidency. Glenn's work on the Special Committee on Aging kept him abreast of healthcare advances and he lobbied NASA to participate on a shuttle mission.
Oldest Person in Space (02:44)
Glenn returned to space at the age of 77 in October 1998. The astronauts performed 83 scientific experiments; hear Glenn's message about voting.
Credits: Legends of Air Power: John Glenn (00:23)
Credits: Legends of Air Power: John Glenn
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