Born July 18, 1921, Cambridge, Ohio. First American to orbit the Earth. The "Clean Marine" flew missions in W.W.II, and Korea, selected in 1959 to be one of the Original Seven astronauts. Third American in Space. Resigned from space program in 1964, and the Marine Corps in '65. Elected to the Senate from Ohio as a Democrat in 1974. Reelected in '80 and '86. Made unsuccessful bid for Democratic Presidential Nomination in 1984. One of 5 senators investigated by Senate Ethics Committee for improper intervention on behalf of Charles Keating. He was exonerated.
During his World War II service, he flew 59 combat missions. After the war, he was a member of Marine Fighter Squadron 218 on the North China patrol and served on Guam. From June 1948 to December 1950 Glenn was an instructor in advanced flight training at Corpus Christi, Texas. He then attended Amphibious Warfare Training at Quantico, Virginia. In Korea he flew 63 missions with Marine Fighter Squadrons 311 and 27 while an exchange pilot with the Air Force in F-86 Sabrejets. In the last nine days of fighting in Korea Glenn downed three MIG's in combat along the Yalu River.
After Korea, Glenn attended Test Pilot School at the Naval Air Test Center, Patuxent River, Maryland. After graduation, he was project officer on a number of aircraft. He was assigned to the Fighter Design Branch of the Navy Bureau of Aeronautics (now Bureau of Naval Weapons) in Washington from November 1956 to April 1959, during which time he also attended the University of Maryland.
In July 1957, while project officer of the F8U Crusader, he set a transcontinental speed record from Los Angeles to New York, spanning the country in 3 hours and 23 minutes. This was the first transcontinental flight to average supersonic speed. Glenn has nearly 9,000 hours of flying time, with approximately 3,000 hours in jet aircraft.
The Mercury capsule, Liberty Bell 7, manned by Astronaut Virgil I. Grissom, boosted by a Redstone rocket, reached a peak altitude of 190.3 km and a speed of 8,335 km per hour. After a flight of 15 minutes and 37 seconds, the landing was made 487 km downrange from the launch site. The hatch blew while still in water, and the capsule sank; Grissom saved, though his suit was filling up with water through open oxygen inlet lines.
This was the second and final manned suborbital Mercury Redstone flight, and the first flight with trapezoidal window. Further suborbital flights (each astronaut was to make one as a training exercise) were cancelled. An attempt to recover the capsule in very deep water in 1994 not successful. It was finally raised in the summer of 1999.
The original Mercury project plan envisioned all of the astronauts making an initial suborbital hop aboard a Redstone booster before making an orbital flight aboard an Atlas. However delays in the program resulted in the Redstone flights coming much closer to the Atlas flights than planned. By the time of the first suborbital Mercury flight, the Russians had already orbited Yuri Gagarin. After Grissom's capsule sunk, it was still planned to fly Glenn on a suborbital flight to prove the capsule. But Gherman Titov was launched on a full-day orbital flight in August 1961, making NASA's suborbital hops look pathetic. Glenn was moved to the first orbital Atlas flight, and further suborbital Mercury flights were cancelled.
First US manned orbital mission. John Glenn finally puts America in orbit. False landing bag deploy light led to reentry being started with retropack left in place on heat shield. It turned out that indicator light was false and a spectacular reentry ensued, with glowing chunks of the retropack whizzing by the window. After four hours and 43 minutes the spacecraft reentered the atmosphere and landed at 2:43 pm EST in the planned recovery area NE of the Island of Puerto Rico. All flight objectives were achieved. Glenn was reported to be in excellent condition. Beause of failure of one of the automatic systems, the astronaut took over manual control of the spacecraft during part of the flight. With this flight, the basic objectives of Project Mercury had been achieved.
The flight of STS-95 provoked more publicity for NASA than any other flight in years, due to the presence of ex-astronaut Senator John Glenn on the crew, which also included the first Spanish astronaut, Pedro Duque. The US Navy PANSAT student satellite was deployed on Oct 30 into a 550 km x 561 x 28.5 degree orbit. The Spartan 201 satellite was deployed from Discovery on November 1 and retrieved on November 3. Spartan 201 was on its fifth mission to observe the solar corona. The data on this mission would be used to recalibrate the SOHO satellite which recently resumed observation of the Sun following loss of control. Discovery landed at 17:03:31 GMT November 7 on Runway 33 at the Shuttle Landing Facility at Kennedy Space Center.