#tbt Local History Blog - "Godspeed, John Glenn"
On today’s “ThrowBackThursday” blog we honor one of Ohio’s Space pioneers, the late John Glenn.
Ohio is a state of Space pioneers.
After all, the Wright Brothers, whose technical genius led to the “first successful powered airplane in 1903...,” hailed from Dayton, our neighbor to the north. (1)
No wonder, then, that in 1962 the “first American to orbit the Earth” was a Buckeye. Cambridge, Ohio, native John Glenn “named his spacecraft Friendship 7...made three orbits around Earth...[and] spent about five hours in space...,” according to NASA (the National Aeronautics and Space Administration). His historic feat “helped NASA learn more” about the effects of being in Space. (2)
As Glenn ascended in his craft that day the mission’s back-up astronaut, Scott Carpenter, uttered the now-famous send-off :
“Godspeed, John Glenn.” (3)
When Glenn returned to Earth, honors poured in from around the world.
Back on Terra Firma Glenn never lost the appetite for an adventure in Space. His philosophy seemed to be “once a Space traveler always a Space traveler.”
He proved that years later. The “first American to orbit the Earth” made history again on October 29, 1998, when he “became the oldest man to fly in space by serving as a payload specialist … aboard the space shuttle Discovery.” (4)
Glenn’s presence in the shuttle helped NASA study the effects of space travel on the aging process. (5)
Back on Terra Firma, John Glenn maintained his tradition of distinguished service to country. For 25 years he represented his fellow Buckeyes in Washington, D.C., as their United States Senator. (6)
Senator Glenn died December 8, 2016, at the Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center in Columbus — a Buckeye to the end. (7) The headline in the New York Times announced:
“John Glenn, American Hero of the Space Age, Dies at 95.” (*)
His contributions, those of many other brave astronauts and an Earthbound army of masterminds led to America’s landing on the Moon. Those first human steps (“one small step for [a] man, one giant leap for mankind”) belonged to Neil Armstrong. The date was July 20, 1969. (8)
Guess what state Armstrong called home.
Newspaper images are from the February 20, 1962 Middletown Journal and Cambridge, Ohio, Daily Jeffersonian.