Former U.S. astronaut and Senator John Glenn dies at age 95 at the Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center in Columbus, the Columbus Dispatch newspaper reported.
CAPE CANAVERAL, FLORIDA, UNITED STATES (USAF HANDOUT) – John Glenn, a former U.S. senator and astronaut who gained worldwide fame for being the first American to orbit the Earth, died Thursday (December 8). He was 95.
Ohio Governor John Kasich tweeted the news on Thursday, calling Glenn a “hometown hero.”
NASA also issued a statement about the news on Thursday, writing, “We are saddened by the loss of Sen. John Glenn, the first American to orbit Earth. A true American hero. Godspeed, John Glenn. Ad astra.”
Glenn had suffered from a number of health problems in recent years, including a stroke two years ago.
Glenn was the third U.S. astronaut in space, and his long career included two space flights. He also had an extensive political career, spending 24 years as a U.S. senator and once running for president.
One of the original seven Mercury astronauts, Glenn became a national hero on Feb. 20, 1962, after his Friendship 7 capsule lifted off from Florida and circled the earth three times in five hours.
Glenn was also a decorated war hero, having served as a Marine fighter pilot. He flew 149 combat missions during World War II and the Korean War, and received the Distinguished Flying Cross six times.
After running for Senate three times, Glenn made it as a Democrat from Ohio in 1974. He would go on to be re-elected three times. He sought the Democratic nomination for president in 1984, but withdrew after showing poor numbers in the early primaries.
Following his space career, Glenn was featured on a number of television programs. Given his hero status, he appeared on numerous talk shows ranging from “The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson” in 1967 to “The Tonight Show with Jay Leno” in 1999.
He was the subject of his own “Biography” special and contributed to other documentaries about America’s space program and the 1960s. He even took on comedic and voiceover roles, playing himself on “Frasier” and voicing Wilbur Wright in “Kitty Hawk: The Wright Brothers’ Journey of Invention.”
After participating in the Discovery mission in 1998, he served as a presenter at the 1999 Oscars.
He will be portrayed by actor Glen Powell in the upcoming NASA-themed feature film “Hidden Figures.”