John Glenn, whose 1962 flight as the first U.S. astronaut to orbit the Earth made him an all-American hero and propelled him to a long career in the U.S. Senate, died. The last survivor of the original Mercury 7 astronauts was 95.
- The Soviet Union leaped ahead in space exploration by putting the Sputnik 1 satellite in orbit in 1957, and then launched the first man in space, cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin, in a 108-minute orbital flight on April 12, 1961. After two suborbital flights by Alan Shepard Jr. and Gus Grissom, it was up to Glenn to be the first American to orbit the Earth.
- Glenn became a symbol of strength and the nation’s pioneering spirit, drawing admirers from all walks of life over a long career in the military, then Nasa, and the US Senate.
- He was chosen along with six other military pilots as part of the “Original Seven“, the very first class of US astronauts in 1959 whose saga was recounted in the classic movie The Right Stuff.
- The US space agency Nasa was among the first to pay tribute to the legendary astronaut who went on to serve as a lawmaker for more than two decades, calling him “a true American hero”.
- The former astronaut and veteran of two wars had been in declining health, undergoing heart-valve replacement surgery in 2014 and reportedly suffering a stroke, and was hospitalised in Columbus more than a week before he died.