Former astronaut and U.S. Senator John Glenn died Thursday, December 8, 2016, at the Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center in Columbus.
Glenn, who served four terms as a U.S. senator from Ohio, was one of NASA's original seven Mercury astronauts. His flight on Friendship 7 on Feb. 20, 1962, showed the world that America was a serious contender in the space race with the Soviet Union. It also made Glenn an instant hero.
His mission of almost nine days on the space shuttle orbiter Discovery, launched Oct. 29, 1998, when he was 77, made him the oldest human to venture into space. On Discovery he participated in a series of tests on the aging process. The aging population was one focus of his work as a U.S. senator.
Glenn was described as "humble, funny, and generous" by Trevor Brown, dean of the John Glenn School of Public Affairs at Ohio State University, in a statement joined by the Glenn family. "Even after leaving public life, he loved to meet with citizens, school children in particular. He thrilled to music and had a weakness for chocolate."
John Herschel Glenn Jr. was born July 18, 1921, in Cambridge, Ohio. He attended primary and secondary schools in New Concord, Ohio. He received a bachelor of science degree in engineering from Muskingum College in New Concord.
Muskingum College is among nine colleges or universities that subsequently awarded him honorary doctoral degrees.
Glenn resigned as an astronaut on Jan. 16, 1964. He was promoted to colonel in October 1964 and retired from the Marine Corps on Jan. 1, 1965.
He became an executive with Royal Crown International, but took an active part in Ohio politics and environmental protection efforts. He won his Senate seat in 1974, carrying all 88 counties of Ohio. He was re-elected in 1980 with the largest margin in Ohio history.
Ohio returned him to the Senate for a third term in 1986, again with a substantial majority. In 1992 he was elected again, becoming the first popularly elected senator from his state to win four consecutive terms.
In 1998, Glenn flew on the STS-95 Discovery shuttle flight, a 9-day mission during which the crew supported a variety of research payloads including deployment of the Spartan solar-observing spacecraft, the Hubble Space Telescope Orbital Systems Test Platform, and Glenn's investigations on space flight and the aging process.