DELHI India -- Spaceman and
Senator John Glenn, who died on 8 December 2016 at the age
of 95, visited Nairobi at the peak of his fame in 1967 –
five years after his first space odyssey, writes Swami Anand Kul Bhushan.
Glenn was hailed as a hero of the space age as the first
American to orbit earth and, astonishingly, returned to
space voyage 36 years later.
He was also elected to the US Senate and served as a
Senator for 24 years.
He stopped in Nairobi for a hero’s welcome from Kenyans
and made it a point to visit Nairobi’s Riverbank Primary
School which was opened in 1962, the year of his three-orbit
flight round the earth.
No wonder a pupils’ house was named in his honour to
inspire the 400-odd pupils.
He was thrilled to greet pupils of his Glenn House.
After a guard of honour by the staff and the pupils, he
said this was his first visit to Africa although he had
passed over the continent in his spacecraft Mercury three
He was presented with two copies of NEW ERA magazine for
Young Kenyans by me as its editor; the issue highlighted his
achievement and later published front-page news of his
Starting his career as a fighter pilot in World War II
and Korean War, he became a test pilot.
Glenn completed the first supersonic transcontinental
flight in an F8U Crusader for 2,445 miles (3,935 km) from
Los Angeles to New York on 16 July 1957 in under 3½ hours,
setting a new record for the fastest time.
Later, he trained at the newly established NASA for a
On 20 February 1962, he became the first American to
orbit the earth, circling three times.
At the same time, he became the fifth person in space to
made news round the world.
A member of the Democratic Party, he first won election
to the Senate in 1974 and served 24 years, from 3 January
John Glenn is remembered as not only the first American
to orbit the Earth, but also the oldest.
NASA sent him at the age of 77 years-again into space!
This historic trip set space science forward to monitor
how an aged human body would fare in space and how aging
might relate to deleterious effects of zero gravity on the
On 15 October 1998, when the shuttle reached low earth
orbit, Glenn returned to space exactly 36 years, eight
months, and nine days after he became the first American to