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Six Astonishing Facts About The Late John Glenn, The First American To Enter Earth's Orbit

He died on Thursday, aged 95.

09/12/2016 15:02 | Updated 09 December 2016

John Glenn, the first US astronaut to enter Earth’s orbit in 1962, has died aged 95.

Glenn’s illustrious career spanned more than eight decades and ranged from space travel to politics, even including a bid for the presidency along the way.

It’s full of astonishing achievements, six of which we’ve highlighted below. 

1. He paved the way for the first moon landing

On February 20, Glenn orbited the Earth three times in less than five hours. The mission reignited the US space programme, marking the way for Neil Armstrong’s first steps on the moon.

2. Four million people turned out for his ticker tape parade

When Glenn returned to Earth, four million people turned up in lower Broadway in Manhattan to celebrate his mission. It’s believed to be the biggest crowd ever for a tribute of that kind. 

3. Glenn holds the record for being the oldest person in space

In 1998, Glenn returned to space on the shuttle Discovery, aged 77, to see what impact the environment would have on his body. Nearly 20 years later, he’s still the oldest person to have ever been to space.

NASA NASA / Reuters

4. He was a senator for 24 years

Glenn represented Ohio in the US senate as a democrat from 1975-1999. 

5. Glenn holds SIX Distinguished Flying Crosses

He also holds an Air Medal with 18 clusters for his service in Korea and during World War II.

6. He set the transcontinental speed record

Flying an F8U Crusader from New York to Los Angeles in July 1957, Glenn set the transcontinental speed record. The journey took just 3 hours and 23 minutes and was the first flight to average supersonic speed.

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