Hundreds of locals celebrate half a century in space with the guy who made it happen: John Glenn.
The Ohio native and former U.S. Senator was honored at Cleveland State University Friday. He was the first American to orbit the Earth when he traveled on Friendship 7 in 1962.
“The important thing is, as we look back and see each and every step along the way, it provides us an insight of what we may be able to do in the future, and that’s the important part,” said Glenn.
Glenn has become a pioneer for the space program, making great strides with Friendship 7. Then, in 1998, he became the oldest American astronaut to go into space at 77 years old.
“After training and flying with you, you’ll always be a hero and mentor to me,” said former NASA astronaut Steven Lindsey, “not because of what you’ve done throughout your amazing career, but because of who you are as a person.”
NASA shut down its shuttle program in 2011. Glenn said he hopes the United States will reconsider the program, which has become an important component to the technology industry and national security.
“That’s the situation we’re in today. We have to send our people over to Russia to be launched to go to our own space station,” Glenn said. “Trying to get a new spacecraft, a new booster, so we can have our own transportation back and forth, so America can have its proper place in the space program.”
Regardless of the state of the program today, Glenn said he’s proud of the past 50 years and anxious for the next 50 that lie ahead.
“It’s good to look back and think about where we may go in the future,” he said. “Can we make some of those same strides in the future as we have in the past? That’s the importance of NASA.”