John Glenn dies: 10 things to know about the oldest astronaut, Korean War pilot and US Senator

John Glenn was the last survivor of the original Mercury 7 astronauts

John Glenn
NASA photo of Astronaut John H. Glenn, Jr., in his Mercury flight suit Reuters

John Glenn, the first American to orbit Earth, passed away on 8 October at the OSU Wexner Medical Center in Columbus at the age of 95.

Though Glenn underwent a successful heart valve replacement surgery at the Cleveland Clinic in 2014, he was suffering from various health issues and his health was on the decline. At the beginning of December 2016, Glenn was hospitalised at the James Cancer Hospital of OSU Wexner Medical Center in Columbus after his condition 'turned very grave' said a family source. However, the exact reason for his death is not yet revealed.

John Glenn was the last survivor of the original Mercury 7 astronauts in the NASA mission of April 1959.

Here are 10 things you should know about one of the first America's astronauts:

  1. John Glenn was born in Cambridge, Ohio, on 18 July 1921. He went on to study engineering at Muskingum College after finishing school. He earned a private pilot license for credit in a physics course in 1941.
  2. Glenn always had a keen interest in joining the army. After the Pearl Harbor during World War II, Glenn quit college to enlist in the US Army Air Corps. However, he was never called to duty. He later joined the United States Navy aviation as a cadet after few years was offered the chance to transfer to the U.S. Marine Corps.
  3. After his training was complete he was assigned to Marine Squadron VMJ-353 in 1943, flying R4D transport planes. He became an integral part of the US army thereafter.
  4. During the Korean War, Glenn was assigned to VMF-311, flying the new F9F Panther jet interceptor and gained the nickname "magnet ass" for his skills of attacking enemy flak.
  5. In 1958, Glenn barely made it through NASA as he was close to the age cutoff of 40 and also lacked the science background that was required.
  6. Glen not only became the first American to orbit the Earth, in Friendship 7 on February 20, 1962, he was the third American in space and the fifth human being in space.
  7. Glenn's political career started in 1964 when he contested against the incumbent United States Senator Stephen M. Young of Ohio. However, he was unable to campaign after he met with an accident where he hit his head against a bathtub.
  8. Later, as a member of the Democratic Party, he first won election to the Senate in 1974 where he served through January 3, 1999.
  9. Glenn landed in soup after his name came up in the Lincoln Savings and Keating Five Scandal. He was accused of accepting a $200,000 contribution from Charles Keating.
  10. In 1998, the 77-year-old astronaut became the oldest person to go into space. In April 2015 it was also announced that the Institute for Public Service that he started in the same year would become the John Glenn College of Public Affairs.

Related topics : Nasa