On Dec. 8, NASA Administrator Charles Bolden commented on the passing of John Glenn. Glenn, the former U.S. Senator and astronaut became the first American to orbit the Earth, when as one of NASA's original Mercury 7 astronauts, he flew aboard Friendship 7 on Feb. 20, 1962. The riveting flight united our nation, launched America to the forefront of the space race and secured for him a unique place in the annals of history.
While that first orbit was the experience of a lifetime, Glenn, who also had flown combat missions in both World War II and the Korean War as a Marine aviator, continued to serve his country as a four-term Senator from Ohio, as a trusted statesman and an educator. In 1998, at the age of 77, he became the oldest human to venture into space as a crew member on the Discovery space shuttle -- once again advancing our understanding of living and working in space.
Senator Glenn's legacy is one of risk and accomplishment, of history created and duty to country carried out under great pressure with the whole world watching. The entire NASA Family will be forever grateful for his outstanding service, commitment and friendship. Personally, I shall miss him greatly. As a fellow Marine and aviator, he was a mentor, role model and, most importantly, a dear friend. My prayers go out to his lovely and devoted wife, Annie, and the entire Glenn family at this time of their great loss.