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John Glenn

AUDIO: Godspeed, John Glenn. 10, …

On the morning of February 20th, 1962, John Glenn became an American icon.

LAUNCH CONTROL: 3, 2, 1, zero. GLENN: Roger, the clock is operating. We’re under way.

Glenn became the first American to orbit Earth. He circled the planet three times aboard his tiny capsule, Friendship 7. Then came parades, a reception at the White House, and other honors.

Glenn was born 100 years ago today, in Ohio. He was an outgoing athlete in high school, and earned a pilot’s license while in college. During World War II, he became a fighter pilot. He flew combat missions during that war and in Korea.

Glenn then became a test pilot. And in 1959, he was picked as one of America’s first astronauts — the Mercury Seven. During their introduction at a press conference, Glenn emerged as the favorite.

GLENN: Well, my wife made a remark the other day, I’ve been out of this world for a long time, I might as well go on out there.

After his flight, NASA didn’t want to risk its most popular astronaut, so it grounded him. Glenn turned to politics, and was elected to the U.S. Senate.

But he never lost the desire to fly in space again. He convinced NASA to launch him on a space shuttle, in 1998.

LAUNCH CONTROL: 3, 2, 1, booster ignition and liftoff of Discovery with a crew of six astronaut heroes and one American legend.

Glenn died in 2016, at age 95 — still an American legend.

AUDIO: Godspeed, John Glenn.

Script by Damond Benningfield

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