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John H. Glenn, Jr.

John Glenn was the first American to orbit Earth.

Quick Facts


John H. Glenn

Before his 4-hour, 55-minute flight in the Friendship 7 capsule, Glenn had served as backup pilot for astronauts Alan Shepard, the first American in space who flew on May 5, 1961, and to Virgil “Gus” Grissom, who followed Shepard on a suborbital flight of his own.

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official portrait of John Glenn
December, 1962 – Official portrait photograph of Astronaut John H. Glenn, Jr., the first American to orbit the Earth in a Project Mercury Spacecraft.
Credit: NASA
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Glenn Orbits the Earth

On February 20, 1962, NASA launched one of the most important flights in American history. The mission? Send a man…

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The Mercury Seven

Portrait of M. Scott Carpenter.

Mercury-Atlas 7 astronaut

Portrait of L. Gordon Cooper, former astronaut

Mercury-Atlas 9 and Gemini V astronaut

John Glenn, Mercury Astronaut

Mercury-Atlas 6 and STS-95 astronaut

Mercury-Redstone 4, Gemini III and Apollo 1 astronaut

Portrait of Walter M. Schirra

Mercury-Atlas 8, Gemini VI-A and Apollo 7 astronaut

Mercury-Redstone 3 and Apollo 14 astronaut

Apollo-Soyuz Test Project astronaut


John Glenn Returns to Space

On October 29, 1998, John Glenn became the oldest man to fly in space by serving as a payload specialist on STS-95 aboard the space shuttle Discovery.

Glenn spent most of his time in space participating in investigations on the aging process. Scientists recognize several parallels between the effects of spaceflight on the human body and the natural changes that take place as a person ages.

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Portrait of STS-95 Payload Specialist Glenn wearing the orange partial-pressure launch and entry suit.
Credits: NASA
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Orbital ATK Dedicates Cygnus Spacecraft to John Glenn

A supply spacecraft set to carry thousands of pounds of experiments and equipment to the International Space Station will also…

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A Legacy Continued

On March 1, 1999, the Lewis Research Center was officially renamed the NASA John H. Glenn Research Center at Lewis Field.

NASA’s John H. Glenn Research Center, is a leading economic contributor to the Cleveland area. Glenn’s main campus, Lewis Field, has world-class facilities including wind tunnels, drop towers, vacuum chambers, and a research aircraft hangar.

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Glenn Research Center Entry at night with lighted hangar in the background featuring the NASA meatball. Signs at the front drive say for the benefit of all.
NASA’s Glenn Research Center in Cleveland.
Credits: NASA

Who was John Glenn?

Learning Resource for Students in Grades K-4

John Glenn was a NASA astronaut. He was part of the first group of astronauts NASA picked. He was the first American to orbit Earth. He also became a U.S. senator. Later, he became the oldest person to fly in space.

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Astronaut John H. Glenn sits in a convertible car in front of the east side of the Mercury Mission Control building.
Astronaut John Glenn outside the Mercury Control Center at Cape Canaveral.
Credits: NASA