Science Space Celebrating the Life of John Glenn By Michael d'Estries Writer State University of New York at Geneseo Michael d’Estries has been writing about science, culture, space and sustainability since 2005. His writing has appeared on Business Insider, CNN, and Forbes. our editorial process Michael d'Estries Updated September 24, 2019 John Glenn, the first American to orbit the Earth, passed away on Dec. 8 at the age of 95. . (Photo: NASA) Share Twitter Pinterest Email Science Space Natural Science Technology Agriculture Energy John Glenn, a man who followed adventure into both the heavens and politics, passed away Dec. 8 in an Ohio State University medical center. He was 95. A hero of the 1960s space program, Glenn made history on Feb. 20, 1962 when he became the first American to orbit the Earth. "I don't know what you can say about a day when you see four beautiful sunsets," he told Mission Control during his historic flight. "This is a little unusual, I think." After serving for 24 years in the U.S. Senate, Glenn made history again in 1998 by becoming the oldest man to fly in space. At the age of 77, he spent nine days aboard the shuttle Discovery in orbit, with NASA closely studying his vitals. "For four days, I had 21 different leads — brainwaves and respiration and EKG — 21 different body parameters being recorded and sent down to the ground," Glenn noted in 2011. In remembering his former colleague and friend, astronaut Buzz Aldrin described him as a space pioneer and world icon. "With the news today I’m saddened again to hear that we have lost the pioneer of space flight for the United States, second only to Yuri Gagarin, and he will always go down in history as certainly one of the most influential officers in the Marine Corps and of course as one of the original Mercury 7 astronauts," wrote Aldrin. "I am very sorry that he has departed us with his wisdom." In addition to tributes from all around the world, including one from President Obama who credited Glenn with "lifting the hopes of a nation," social media has also remembering the late hero with thousands of quotes and photos.