A Legend Returns

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A Legend Returns

AUDIO: Godspeed, John Glenn. 3, 2, 1, zero, ignition, liftoff! The MA-6 vehicle has lifted off…

John Glenn was an instant legend. On February 20th of 1962, he became the first American to orbit Earth. The feat earned him a trip to the White House and the biggest ticker-tape parade in 35 years.

Glenn found there was a problem with his new status, though. NASA didn’t want to risk its most famous astronaut, so he wasn’t allowed to fly in space again. He left the space program and went into politics, and eventually was elected to the United States Senate.

Glenn still wanted to fly in space again, though. His flight aboard his Mercury capsule, Friendship 7, had lasted just five hours, and that just wasn’t enough.

Eventually, Glenn lobbied NASA to allow him to fly on a space shuttle. He’d serve as a guinea pig — researchers could study the effects of spaceflight on the aging process. The agency gave in. And 25 years ago today, at age 77, John Glenn returned to space — the oldest person ever to reach orbit.

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

The flight lasted almost 10 days. Back on Earth, Glenn and his crewmates received a ticker-tape parade — one more honor for a legendary astronaut.

Script by Damond Benningfield

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