NASA today wished John Glenn, the first American to orbit Earth and the oldest person to fly the shuttle, a happy 90th birthday with the following statement:
WASHINGTON -- NASA commemorates the 90th birthday of astronaut John Glenn. The pioneering explorer was the first U.S. astronaut to orbit the Earth and also was the oldest person to fly to space when he launched on the space shuttle in 1998.
"John Glenn is a legend, and NASA sends him our best wishes on this major personal milestone," NASA Administrator Charles Bolden said.
"John's legacy and contributions to the continued progress of human spaceflight are immense. His example is one we continue to emulate as we push toward farther destinations in the solar system."
After a distinguished flying career with the Marines in World War II and Korea, Glenn joined NASA in 1959 as one of the country's first astronauts in Project Mercury. On Feb. 20, 1962, Glenn piloted the Mercury-Atlas 6 "Friendship 7" spacecraft on the first U.S. manned orbital mission. He launched from NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida to successfully complete three orbits of the Earth.
Glenn flew to space again on the the STS-95 mission in 1998 aboard the space shuttle Discovery. As a mission specialist, Glenn supported deployment of a variety of research payloads and participated in investigations about spaceflight and the aging process.
To read a biography of John Glenn, visit: http://www.jsc.nasa.gov/Bios/htmlbios/glenn-j.html.
IMAGES: Above, Glenn aboard the MA-6/Friendship 7 capsule during the U.S.'s initial orbital flight on February 20, 1962. Credit: NASA. Below, U.S. Sen. Glenn assisted by Carlous Gillis in suiting up for a training exercise at the Johnson Space Center on April 28, 1998. Photo by Joe McNally, National Geographic, for NASA.