Godspeed, John Glenn. Ad Astra

johnglenn-1_slide-b391dd673190b28a516f16bc13b28122d396cfe2-s1000-c85Then there was the technology. Rockets exploded during testing, sometimes with the astronauts watching. In 2012, on the 50th anniversary of his Mercury flight, Glenn reflected on the danger.

“It was important because of the Cold War,” Glenn said at a Smithsonian forum. “It was a new step forward, and we were proud to be representing our country there. And so … you made it as safe as you possibly could, and what little bit of risk was left, we accepted that.”

Any trip to space is risky, and Glenn’s mission was no exception. During his five hour, three-orbit flight, there were some tense moments after faulty warnings about his heat shield. At a post-flight news conference, Glenn was characteristically cool. “So there were some moments of doubt there as to whether the heat shield had been damaged and whether it might be tearing up itself. And this … this could have been a bad day all the way around if this had been the case.”

After the flight, he became a national hero. He befriended President John F. Kennedy and received a ticker-tape parade in New York City.

“I think John Glenn will be remembered as an actual hero at a time when heroes are often called heroes but are not,” says Francis French, the author of many books on the space program’s early days.

French says Glenn was basically an all-American boy with a photogenic smile and a quick wit.

“I think John Glenn is one of those people that’s going to stay in the history books,” he says. “And even the most cynical of history readers is going to go, ‘This guy actually is what everybody says he was.’ “

French says Glenn was “exactly at the right place at the right time for when America needed somebody to not only become the first American to orbit the Earth but to actually project what it meant for America to put a person into space.”

A life in flight and politics

Glenn was a highly decorated Marine who flew 59 combat missions in the South Pacific during World War II. During the Korean War, he flew 90 combat missions, using different models of new jet fighters.

He remained in the military through the 1950s, testing supersonic aircraft and other military models. In all, he earned the Distinguished Flying Cross five times. In 1958 he was one of 508 pilots tested for what became the Mercury program, an accelerated response to the Soviet Union’s successful launch of the first satellite in 1957.

via John Glenn, First American To Orbit The Earth, Dies At 95 : The Two-Way : NPR Read it all.


It seems a lifetime ago, now, and in some ways it is, after all, 54 years is a long time, as we reckon it. But I doubt any of us have forgotten that February 20 back in 1962. I was in grade school, and Indiana was pioneering with educational TV programming broadcast from an aircraft. Well, school was pretty well forgotten, not just by the students, but by everybody. We pretty much sat and stared at the map that NASA used to show his progress. One of those seminal moments that tell you much about yourself, and yes, your country, as well. The Soviet Union had already sent cosmonauts into orbit, or so they said. You know, no pictures, no proof, then as now. But here was America, risking it, and on live TV, for the world to see, whether it worked or blew up, and in those days, lots of our rockets did.

And then there was Glenn himself, in a way he was pretty reminiscent of Eisenhower, a small town boy, with an appealing grin, and doing things that we all dreamed of. The right stuff, indeed.

And you know, even when he was a senator, and advocating for things that many of us thought wrong, well, who cared, he was John Glenn, one of the first seven astronauts, and had the guts to fly Freedom 7 in orbit all by himself. And then when he retired and convinced NASA to let him go into space once more, this time on space shuttle Discovery. Made you feel young again, here was a senior citizen, a second world war vet, and yet here he was, nearly in the new millennium, back in space.

And now he is gone too, the last of the Mercury Astronauts. Must be kind of like it felt when Sir Francis Drake died. What an amazing lifetime I’ve we’ve lived.

A hero's welcome for a real hero

A hero’s welcome for a real hero

President-elect Trump tweeted

A good summary, I think, leaving only this to add

“Oh, I have slipped the surly bonds of earth,
And danced the skies on laughter-silvered wings;
Sunward I’ve climbed and joined the tumbling mirth of sun-split clouds –
and done a hundred things You have not dreamed of –
wheeled and soared and swung high in the sunlit silence.
Hovering there I’ve chased the shouting wind along
and flung my eager craft through footless halls of air.

“Up, up the long delirious burning blue
I’ve topped the wind-swept heights with easy grace,
where never lark, or even eagle, flew;
and, while with silent, lifting mind I’ve trod
the high untrespassed sanctity of space,
put out my hand and touched the face of God.”


About NEO
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16 Responses to Godspeed, John Glenn. Ad Astra

  1. My father, though a British scientist, got to meet many of the American Astronauts, in 1965 I believe? He was invited with many other British scientists, but on another and much later day he got to meet and chat with the great Neil Armstrong one on one, and as I have said before, as aviators and former military pilots all they talked about were the planes they flew! What a Breed that generation was! RIP! (My father was a Spit pilot in WW II, and Armstrong was in the Korean War).

    Semper Fi John Glenn!

    Liked by 1 person

    • NEO says:

      Indeed, I met Armstrong myself. Pretty much how they were. That they were.

      Already missing the colonel.


      • Yes the American Marine John Glenn was the real deal! As indeed were most all the men in that generation! God, that was a special time, and British Aviation was pretty good then too! 🙂

        *Almost a day does not pass that I do not think of my father! I chased his image for years!

        Liked by 1 person

        • *Btw, if ya look at me pic’s, the man at the big telescope is my Father, in his early 50’s then as I remember?


  2. the unit says:

    Yes, I don’t remember specifically what issues and policies I disagreed with that John Glenn supported as a Senator. Just remembered I was surprised.
    Lots of quotes being posted from him today. Here’s one I think that shows he understood us and knew what we think we know:

    Liked by 1 person

    • NEO says:

      That’s me, I remember I disagreed about a fair amount, but not what.

      Great quote, him (and most every military pilot) I’ve ever known. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

      • the unit says:

        I was reading about his situation in orbit on Friendship 7 when it was feared a heat shield had come loose. Likely thoughts…how will I get home?…Will I get home? Of course he did with a deviation of re-entry angles and such.
        We probably can all relate to that, although likely never with such severe potential catastrophic consequences in what’s happened to us in the course of our lives.
        The most current just yesterday for me. I had run up to the hardware for a couple of items in late afternoon to keep me busy on a cold night and cold tomorrow (today now). Upon leaving and backing out of parking place, a terrible ‘clank’ and truck stopped. I got out to see what I hit. Nothing there. Looked underneath expecting to see drive shaft sheared and hanging. Nothing. Still no reverse. Tried drive and it worked. Pulled into parking place so as to get out of the lane and out of the way. What to do? How will I get me and truck home? Well, after thinking I did have drive so me and several onlookers pushed truck out into lane and I made it home in drive.
        Since learned likely have broken transmission “sun shell”…no reverse, have 1st and 3rd, no 2nd and overdrive. Seems to be a pretty common chevy truck issue. Will be in market for used tranny as old truck has 260k on it.
        As for Glenn it was determined after splash down heat shield fine, bad indicator. Low bid item. All’s well that ends well. Results! 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

        • NEO says:

          I don’t envy you that trans. Dad had a motorhome with a wedge 413 and 727 transmission, still in wrranty when it lost 3, then 2d. Dodge of course fixed it, did it again, fixed it again, Dodge zone told him not to worry warranty was esssentially forever on the tranny (dealer knew he’s bought probably 50 dodges since the war for the company), anyway happened again, Florida dealer wouldn’t honor warranty, Dodge was going to reimburse but said they could only do flat rate, which was half of what that dealer charged. Finally found the problem, though. Somebody at factory had damaged torque convertor at the factory – it had been built the day before they went on strike.

          Yep, beware the bloody burned out light bulb! 🙂

          Liked by 1 person

        • the unit says:

          I’ll have to have a shop change out transmissions. Beyond my capacity by 20 or 30 years and proper tools. And only trannys I handled was standard shifts which were light enough to lift by hand. Which was better than 50 years ago as a matter of fact. All that and the subject of the blog today seems like yesterday. 🙂

          Liked by 1 person

        • NEO says:

          Yep, I don’t mess with autos either, beyond what I know, and yeah, they ain’t light either. It does, doesn’t it? How time flies! 🙂

          Liked by 1 person

  3. the unit says:

    And Whew! For a second there I thought the blog title said Ed Asner!

    Liked by 1 person

    • NEO says:

      Hardly, borrowed from NASA’s Tweet on his death. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  4. the unit says:

    I stumbled onto that site Orphans of Liberty. They say in the about section “Writing is the first act of rebellion.” You’re doing deplorably well all total. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • NEO says:

      One must know what one is fighting for. The pen is mightier than the sword, but is the keyboard mightier than the automatic rifle? I guess we shall see.

      Thanks, at any rate. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

      • the unit says:

        Monitors, keyboards, printers, and ink – Molon labe! 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

        • NEO says:



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