Commander And Senator John Glenn Would Have Turned 100, Yesterday…

He made it to see his 95th birthday — and lived a life. . . literally quite unlike any other human of the mid- to late- 20th Century. NASA has an interactive tribute up this weekend, and so we will re-run ours of five years ago, on his passing, below.

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This truly is a moment for. . . smiles — of wonder. Senator Glenn just caught a ride — on a moon-beam — and he’s on his way. [How does one hold a moon-beam, in one’s hands. . .?]

This was a man whose life embodied every bit of what the greatest generation was all about. At the bottom, I’ll add a few lines of poetry or prose, when I find something truly fitting. But for now, read his local newspaper’s version of some of more prosaic events of his life. Yes, by the standards of his life — the Friendship Seven ride was just one small part of the arc of his life. [He might well say that every moment, with his Annie, made up almost all the transcendent ones, you see.] Here’s a bit:

. . .In 1959, [Commander Glenn] was selected as one of the country’s first seven astronauts, a historic group immortalized in Tom Wolfe’s 1979 book The Right Stuff, the basis for a movie of the same name.

The United States was enveloped in a cold war with the Soviet Union, and after a series of U.S. rockets had blown up, the American psyche was dealt a blow in 1961 when Russian Yuri Gagarin became the first human in space and the first to orbit Earth.

The third American in space after suborbital missions by Alan Shepard and Gus Grissom, Glenn finally equaled Gagarin’s achievement by blasting off on Feb. 20, 1962, after weather and mechanical problems caused his mission to be postponed 10 times.

Crammed into the 7-foot-wide Friendship 7 space capsule atop a 100-foot-tall Atlas rocket loaded with 250,000 pounds of explosive fuel, Glenn launched 160-miles into space, orbiting the world three times at 17,500 miles per hour.

Reflecting many years later, Glenn would say that computers were the greatest technological achievement during his life, but there were none on Friendship 7, and deep into the flight he had to take manual control of the capsule when systems malfunctioned. . . .

[More in moments — but just as a sweet one turns one — another rides. . . a moon-beam out. . . .] Sally Ride is known to have remarked — of where Commander Glenn is now — “the stars don’t look bigger [in space], but they do look brighter. . . .” That I think is the perfect closer, here. Perfect. Smile with me now.

नमस्ते

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