Almost four months after his death at the age of 95, the mortal remains of former astronaut and senator John Glenn were interred today amid Marine Corps pomp and circumstance at Arlington National Cemetery. Glenn became the first American in orbit in 1962, and the oldest human in space in 1998.
Apollo 11 moonwalker Buzz Aldrin made light of what some might consider a close brush with death during an interview that aired today on NBC’s “Today” show – but he made a serious point as well.
A medical emergency at the South Pole forced Aldrin’s evacuation from the South Pole during a tourism trek on Nov. 30. “I got out of breath,” the 86-year-old told interviewer Al Roker at Kennedy Space Center in Florida. “You know, that’s nothing new, except it’s a little more concentrated.”
Aldrin suffered from respiratory problems associated with Antarctica’s cold temperatures and high altitude. “Not much air to breathe up there,” he said. He was airlifted to a hospital in Christchurch, New Zealand, for a week of recuperation.
It didn’t sound as if he had any regrets.
“When turning back is about as difficult as pressing on, you press on, because you’ve got an objective,” Aldrin said. “Especially when they tell me that I just set a record – the oldest guy to the South Pole. See, now it was worth it, really!”
American flags around the world will be flying at half-staff for the next few days in memory of John Glenn, the pioneering astronaut and long-serving senator who died Dec. 8 at the age of 95.
The traditional order was given today in a proclamation from President Barack Obama. The half-staff order applies until sunset on the day of Glenn’s interment, the timing of which has not yet been announced.
Glenn made history in 1962 as the first NASA astronaut to circle the planet – as a follow-up to Soviet cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin’s orbital feat a year earlier, plus two U.S. suborbital spaceflights.
That’s not his only claim to fame. In 1957, as a Marine Corps aviator, Glenn broke the transcontinental flight speed record (which has been broken several times since then). In 1974, he became the first spaceflier to get elected to the U.S. Senate. And in 1998, he became the oldest human in space when he flew on the shuttle Discovery at the age of 77.
As news spread of his death in a hospital in Columbus, Ohio, accolades flooded in from all over the world. We’ve already passed along a lot of Twitter tributes, but here are a few more…
Amazon billionaire Jeff Bezos accepted yet another award tonight for his Blue Originspace effort, but the prize he treasured the most is no doubt an accompanying letter from space hero John Glenn, who passed away 10 days after writing it.
The letter, dated Nov. 28, was made public as Bezos received a Smithsonian American Ingenuity Award tonight in Washington, D.C. The first African-American woman to fly in space, Mae Jemison, read Glenn’s tribute to Bezos at the ceremony – only hours after Glenn died in an Ohio hospital.
Blue Origin has successfully sent its New Shepard suborbital rocket ship to outer space and back five times, duplicating Mercury astronaut Alan Shepard’s ride. And it’s gearing up to build New Glenn rockets that will send spacecraft into orbit, just as Glenn went into orbit in 1962.
Glenn wrote that he was “deeply touched” to have a rocket named after him.
Godspeed, John Glenn.
The first American to go into orbit, and the first astronaut to become a senator and presidential candidate, died today in Ohio at the age of 95.
The Columbus Dispatch reported that Glenn was surrounded by family, including his wife Annie, at the Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center when he died.
President Barack Obama said that with Glenn’s passing, “our nation has lost an icon, and Michelle and I have lost a friend.”
“John always had the right stuff, inspiring generations of scientists, engineers and astronauts who will take us to Mars and beyond — not just to visit, but to stay,” Obama said in a statement.
Glenn made history as one of NASA’s original Mercury 7 on Feb. 20, 1962, when he circled the planet three times. That mission followed up on Soviet astronaut Yuri Gagarin’s first-ever orbital flight in 1961 and two U.S. suborbital spaceflights, setting the stage for America to get into the race to the moon in earnest.