John Glenn: America's Astronaut
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In February 1962, he became the first American to orbit the Earth. Since then John Herschel Glenn Jr. has stood in the popular imagination as a quintessentially American hero. In John Glenn: America's Astronaut, a special edition e-book featuring 45 stunning photographs as well as a video, Chaikin explores Glenn's path to greatness. John Glenn features new details on Glenn's selection as an astronaut in 1959, newly synchronized onboard film and audio of Glenn's harrowing reentry from orbit on his 1962 Mercury mission, rarely seen images of Glenn in orbit and from the John Glenn archives at Ohio State University, as well as new, touching reminiscenes of Glenn's 1998 return to space from his Space Shuttle crewmates. Glenn is the embodiment of the history of human spaceflight and the indefatigable American spirit, and John Glenn: America's Astronaut is his amazing story.
for his shuttle flight. (NASA) Practicing emergency escape techniques in a shuttle trainer at NASA Johnson Spaceflight Center. (NASA) Glenn tours the flight deck of space shuttle Columbia during a visit to the Kennedy Space Center in January 1998. (NASA) Parachute drop training at the Johnson Space Center. (NASA) With Annie, son David and daughter Lyn at the Kennedy Space Center, three days before his shuttle launch. (NASA) Annie Glenn gets a picture during a break in training at the Johnson
VMF-311. They flew the F9F Panther, a heavily armed, straight-wing Grumman fighter-bomber. It was wonderful to be back in the camaraderie of wartime flyers. As it happened, VMF-311 also included Boston Red Sox slugger Ted Williams, who brought the same perfectionism to his flying that he did to hitting a baseball. (His squadron mates couldn’t resist nicknaming him “Bush,” short for “bush league”). From the time Glenn arrived the pace was intense. The ground war had become stalemated, with both
Force F-86 squadron, and he’d inquired on his own—without approval—about getting checked out in the Sabre before leaving the States. (The C.O. of the F-86 base in Massachusetts, whom Glenn already knew, told him, “You know it’s illegal, and I know it’s illegal, but come on up.”) In June 1953, after flying 67 missions with VMF-311, Glenn transferred to air base K-13 at Suwon to fly F-86s with the Air Force’s 25th Fighter Squadron. Unlike Marine squadrons, Air Force flyers used the same plane
the Fury had four 20-millimeter cannon. There had already been signs that the vibrations from those cannon were powerful enough to weaken metal plates near the plane’s nose, but what happened to Glenn one day was even worse. Flying at 40,000 feet, he test-fired the cannon—and suddenly the canopy seal blew out, causing instant depressurization. At the same time, both his primary and secondary oxygen supplies failed. Dangerously close to losing consciousness, Glenn held his breath and put the Fury
1958 President Dwight Eisenhower signed legislation that would transform NACA into NASA—the National Aeronautics and Space Administration. Soon the deskbound fliers at BuAer heard that the new space agency would be looking for pilots to fly in space—for real. For the first time, Glenn saw how his life’s trajectory might take a new and incredible direction, beyond the atmosphere. “TOP SECRET” was the designation stamped on the orders that 110 pilots, including Glenn, received early in 1959