John Glenn, the first US astronaut to orbit the Earth, has died

His 1962 flight made him an all-American hero and propelled him to a long career in the U.S. Senate

John Glenn, the first US astronaut to orbit the Earth, has died

Image: Paul Vernon AP/Press Association Images

John Glenn, the first U.S. astronaut to orbit the Earth has died aged 95.

Glenn died at the James Cancer Hospital in Columbus, Ohio, where he was hospitalized for more than a week, said Hank Wilson, communications director for the John Glenn School of Public Affairs.

As well as his career as an astronaut, Glenn served 24 years in the Senate from Ohio. In 1984, he failed to secure the Democratic presidential nomination.

He returned to space in the shuttle Discovery at age 77 in 1998, holding the record for the oldest person in space.

"Godspeed, John Glenn"

Fellow astronaut Scott Carpenter radioed these words just before Glenn thundered off a Cape Canaveral launch pad, now a National Historic Landmark, to a place America had never been. At the time of that February 20, 1962, flight, Glenn was 40 years old.

"It still seems so vivid to me," Glenn said in a 2012 interview with The Associated Press on the 50th anniversary of the flight. "I still can sort of pseudo feel some of those same sensations I had back in those days during launch and all."

Glenn said he was often asked if he was afraid, and he replied, "If you are talking about fear that overcomes what you are supposed to do, no. You've trained very hard for those flights."

In 1959, Glenn wrote in Life magazine: "Space travel is at the frontier of my profession. It is going to be accomplished, and I want to be in on it. There is also an element of simple duty involved. I am convinced that I have something to give this project."