The last of the seven astronauts of the original NASA team Mercury, who made the first orbital space flight in the United States in 1962, died at 95 years old.
Former US astronaut and Senator John Glenn died in his home state of Ohio after being hospitalized for more than a week.
There was no additional information about his death.
“John Glenn is the last of the original seven American astronauts who really“ thought right ”. Paving the way for all of us, he was a true gentleman and shameless patriot, ”said US Senator Bill Nelson, a Democrat from Florida.
Glenn's space flight (4 hours 55 minutes) on February 20, 1962 was a turning point in a tense race with the Soviet Union to develop missiles capable of striking all continents. Before this flight, America was left behind.
The Soviets sent the first satellite on October 4, 1957, the first animal (Laika dog) on November 3, 1957, and then the first cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin on April 12, 1961. “The satellite was an unexpected occurrence,” said historian Alan Marcus from Mississippi State University.
“First Sputnik, then Cuban missile crisis. There was tension between the United States and the Soviet Union. All these problems were interrupted by Glenn's flight, but this was not the end. This is just a step towards victory in the Cold War, ”he said.
Before Glenn got inside the Friendship 7 capsule, two of his team-mates (Alan Shepard and Goose Griss) made short suborbital space flights. Fearing the activity of the Soviets and despite the flight, which lasted only 31 minutes, President John F. Kennedy made the challenge for astronauts to land on the moon until the end of the century.
At this point, Glenn, the Puritan Marine Corps pilot from Ohio, arrives, who has 59 sorties during World War II and 100 missions in Korea, before becoming one of the first NASA astronauts.
In addition to Shepard, Griss and Glenn, Scott Carpenter, Gordon Cooper, Valley Shira and Dack Slayton joined the team. Glenn (the eldest of the group) was the last surviving member.
He made three sorties around the Earth, reaching a maximum height of 162 miles and a speed of about 17,500 miles per hour, before descending to 800 miles down southeast of Cape Canaveral, Florida. He returned home as a hero who was honored with a parade in New York and an honorary medal of Congress from President Kennedy. “John Glenn united us again!” Wrote Tom Wolf in his column for The New York Times.
After retiring from NASA in January 1964, Glenn used his fame for a political career in the status of US Senator from Ohio from 1974 to 1999, and he ran for president in 1984 as a Democratic candidate.
In 1998, Glenn made a long-awaited second flight aboard a NASA shuttle, accompanied by six crew members. The goal was to study the effects of space flight on the elderly. For Glenn remains the title of the oldest man who flew into outer space (77 years).
Glenna is mourned by his wife, whom he fell in love with in high school, 73-year-old Annie and his two children and two grandchildren.