Life After Orbit

After the completion of the Mercury program, John Glenn received the Space Congressional Medal of Honor and was received at the White House by President Kennedy. He remained in the space program with NASA well into the Apollo years. Glenn's specialty, flight control systems and cockpit instrumentation, would be tapped throughout as the United States achieved the decade's ultimate goal, putting a man on the moon.

In 1965, John Glenn retired from NASA and returned to Ohio to go into business. Less than a decade later, he set his goals on the United States Senate -- he won a seat that November of 1974 and has been reelected by a wide margin every six years since. During his multiple terms in the Senate, Glenn proved as able a Senator as an astronaut.

Today, he serves as the Ranking Member of both the Governmental Affairs Committee and the Subcommittee on Airland Forces in the Senate Armed Services Committee. He also serves on the Select Committee on Intelligence and the Special Committee on Aging.

On February 20, 1997, to the day 35 years after his historic orbital flight, Senator John Glenn announced his retirement.

One comment from his retirement speech stands out and demonstrates is enduring good humor:

I guess the question I'm asked the most often is: "When you were sitting in that capsule listening to the count-down, how did you feel?" Well, the answer to that one is easy. I felt exactly how you would feel if you were getting ready to launch and knew you were sitting on top of two million parts -- all built by the lowest bidder on a government contract.

To the astonishment and pleasure of the nation, NASA has asked John Glenn to return to space as part of STS-95, scheduled for launch in October 1998. His task is to study the effects of space travel on an older person.

Unlike his first three orbits 36 years ago, this time John Glenn will spend nine days in space. Rather than being alone in a tiny capsule, he will fly with six companions -- other astronauts who were still toddlers when he first launched into history.