John Glenn, the first American to fly into orbit around the planet Earth and later a US senator for 24 years, died Thursday at a cancer hospital in Columbus, Ohio. He was 95 and the last of the living Mercury Seven astronauts.
Although he made history as an astronaut, that did not define Glenn as an American. Before joining NASA, he was a marine fighter pilot and decorated hero during World War II and the Korean War. After NASA he served four terms as a US senator, often focusing on issues not related to spaceflight, such as the non-proliferation of nuclear weapons. “Overall, I think his legacy is one of public service,” said John Logsdon, a space historian.
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