As the first American to orbit the Earth, John Glenn became a national hero.
Like all of the original astronauts, Glenn had seen service as a military flyer before joining the space programme.
And at the age of 77, after a career in politics he did it all over again, becoming the oldest person ever to travel into orbit.
John Herschel Glenn Jr was born in Cambridge, Ohio, in July 1921, the only son of a master plumber and a schoolteacher.
He went to the local high school, which now bears his name, and then to college where he studied engineering.
He saw action in World War Two and Korea
He failed to complete the course which would have led to a Bachelor of Science degree although his college awarded him one after his earth orbit.
He learned to fly just before America entered the war in 1941, and was commissioned in the Marine Corps in 1943.
He was a pilot in a Marine fighter squadron in the Pacific and again during the Korean War, when he gained a reputation for being able to attract enemy anti-aircraft fire.
I don't know what you could say about a day in which you have seen four beautiful sunsets
|Friendship 7 carried him three times around the earth|
After one mission he returned to base with more than 200 holes in the fuselage of his F9F Panther fighter.
He was posted to the US Test Pilot School in Maryland and in 1957 became the first pilot to complete a supersonic flight across the continental US.
Two years later he became one of six pilots selected for the fledgling US space programme following a gruelling series of physical and mental tests.
Glenn almost failed to make the final selection. He did not meet the required academic qualifications and was close to 40, the age that would have barred him from being considered.
On 20 February 1962, Glenn boarded the Mercury spacecraft Friendship 7 for a space journey that would last more than four hours and see him complete three orbits of the Earth.
There was concern over his safe return after instruments indicated a malfunction on the capsule but he splashed down safely in the Atlantic just 40 miles from the target area.
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