John Herschel Glenn Jr. passed away today, aged 95. While he is especially famous for being the first American to orbit the Earth, he led a very rich aeronautical career as a fighter and test pilot, and was three times a US senator.
Born in 1921, Glenn joined the US Navy after Pearl Harbor and was eventually transferred to the US Marine Corps. He flew a fiorst tour of operations flying R4D transports, the US Navy version of the famous C-47, and later a second tour on the F4U Corsair fighter.
During the Korean War, he completed a first tour of operations flying F9F Panthers before joining a US Air Force exchange program and flying 27 missions on the F-86 Sabre, with which he claimed 3 victories over MiG-15 jet fighters in the final days of the conflict.
He later became a test pilot and made the first supersonic transcontinental flight over the US, flying an F8U-3P Crusader on 16 June 1957.
In 1958, he became part of NASA’s first group of astronauts and became the first American to orbirt the Earth, onboard Friendship 7 on 20 February 1962.
He left NASA in 1964 and began a career in business and politics. He was elected three times a US Senator.
In 1998, Glenn returned to space on the space shuttle mission STS-95, thus becoming the oldest astronaut ever.