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John Glenn, Last of America’s Pioneer Space Explorers, Dies at 95

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John Glenn, the legendary American astronaut and politician, has died at the age of 95. Glenn was one of the pioneers of the space program, and the first man to orbit the earth. 36 years later, Glenn returned to space to become the oldest person ever to make the journey.

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“We are saddened by the loss of Sen. John Glenn, the first American to orbit Earth. A true American hero. Godspeed, John Glenn,” NASA tweeted today.

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Glenn passed away at the James Cancer Hospital in Columbus, Ohio, where he bad been hospitalized.

“With John’s passing, our nation has lost an icon and Michelle and I have lost a friend. ¬†John spent his life breaking barriers, from defending our freedom as a decorated Marine Corps fighter pilot in World War II and Korea, to setting a transcontinental speed record, to becoming, at age 77, the oldest human to touch the stars,” President Obama said in a statement.

“Today we lost a great pioneer of air and space in John Glenn. He was a hero and inspired generations of future explorers. He will be missed,” President-elect Trump tweeted.

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Glenn was part of a generation of astronauts who embraced space exploration at a time when the odds of surviving their missions were highly uncertain. He was to ride the 7th Atlas rocket into space. Two of the previous six had exploded. On February 20, 1962 he orbited the earth three times in “Friendship 7.” The flight lasted just under five hours.

Before his involvement with NASA, Glenn was a Marine pilot. He flew 149 missions in World War II and Korea. After retiring from the space program, Glenn went on to serve four terms as a Democratic senator from Ohio.

At age 77, Glenn flew again–this time in the Space Shuttle Discovery. His mission in 1998 lasted 9 days.

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Glenn, throughout his career, served his country well. During his time as a senator, he was considered as a vice-presidential candidate for Jimmy Carter, and explored a run for the presidency.