17 Badass Photos Celebrating The Life Of John Glenn

On December 8, 2016, John Herschel Glenn Jr. passed away at the age of 95. Glenn is best known as one of NASA’s original astronauts, selected as one of the “Mercury Seven” in 1959. But before joining the space agency, he was a distinguished fighting pilot in both World War II and the Korean War, with five Distinguished Flying Crosses and eighteen clusters to his name.

On February 20, 1962, Glenn flew the Friendship 7 mission and became the fifth person in space and the first American to orbit the Earth, circling three times. He then retired from NASA in 1964 with his eyes on the US Senate.

Glenn was first elected to the Senate in 1974 and he served through January 3, 1999. While still serving as a senator, he became the oldest person to fly in space, and the only one to fly in both the Mercury and Space Shuttle programs, as crew member on the Discovery space shuttle in 1998.

Among Glenn’s many awards and accolades are the NASA Distinguished Service Medal, the Congressional Space Medal of Honor and the Presidential Medal of Freedom.

In honor of John Glenn, we present some of his most incredible photos from the NASA archives.

The seven original Mercury astronauts participate in U.S. Air Force survival school at Stead Air Force Base in Nevada. Picture from left to right are L. Gordon Cooper, M. Scott Carpenter, John H. Glenn, Jr., Alan Shepard, Virgil I. Grissom, Walter M. Schirra, Jr., and Donald K. Slayton. Portions of their clothing have been fashioned from parachute material, and all have grown beards from their time in the wilderness. The purpose of this training was to prepare astronauts in the event of an emergency or faulty landing in a remote area.
The Mercury Seven astronauts with a Convair F-106B Delta Dart aircraft at Langley Air Force Base. From left to right: Scott Carpenter, Gordon Cooper, John Glenn, Gus Grissom, Wally Schirra, Alan Shepard and Deke Slayton.
Running along the beach at Cape Canaveral, Florida, 1962
Donning space suit during pre-flight operations at Cape Canaveral, February 20, 1962, the day he flew his Mercury-Atlas 6 spacecraft, Friendship 7, into orbital flight around the Earth
During Mercury-Atlas 6 Pre-launch Activities
Entering the Mercury “Friendship 7” Spacecraft during prelaunch preparations
Photographed in space by an automatic sequence motion picture camera during his flight on “Friendship 7.” Glenn was in a state of weightlessness traveling at 17,500 mph as these pictures were taken.
President John F. Kennedy, astronaut John Glenn and Gen. Leighton I. Davis, commander of the Air Force Missile Test Center, ride together in the back seat during a 1962 parade in Cocoa Beach, Fla., to celebrate America’s first human orbital spaceflight.
Astronauts participate in tropical survival training at Albrook Air Force Base near the Panama Canal. From left to right are an unidentified trainer, Neil Armstrong, John H. Glenn, Jr., L. Gordon Cooper, and Pete Conrad. Survival training was, and still is, an important exercise for astronauts, as a launch abort or misguided reentry could potentially land them in a remote wilderness area.
STS-95 crewmember, astronaut and U.S. Senator John Glenn. Glenn was the first American to orbit the earth and returned to space in 1998 aboard a Space Shuttle flight.
STS-95 mission Commander Curtis Brown (left) and Payload Specialist John Glenn are photographed on the aft flight deck of Discovery during a press conference.
STS-95 Payload Specialist John Glenn positions himself to take photos from the Discovery’s aft flight deck windows on Flight Day 3.
Senator-astronaut John Glenn on the shuttle Discovery.
John Glenn, left, Buzz Aldrin and NASA Administrator Charles Bolden, right, listen to remarks during a Congressional Gold Medal ceremony honoring astronauts Neil Armstrong, Buzz Aldrin himself and John Glenn in the Rotunda at the U.S. Capitol, Wednesday, Nov. 16, 2011, in Washington.
Former U.S. Senator John Glenn, left, and Apollo 11 lunar module pilot, Buzz Aldrin, shake hands before a memorial service celebrating the life of Neil Armstrong, on Thursday, 13 September 2012, at the Washington National Cathedral.
President Barack Obama and Annie Glenn greet each other following an event at The Ohio State University in Columbus, Ohio, Oct. 9, 2012.
President Barack Obama presents former United States Marine Corps pilot, astronaut and United States Senator John Glenn with a Medal of Freedom, Tuesday, May 29, 2012, during a ceremony at the White House in Washington.