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No Ordinary Baby Glenn at nine months old in Cambridge, Ohio, in 1922. He would soon meet the neighborhood girl he would eventually marry. "Annie and I met in the playpen," he likes to say.AP
A Draining Training Session Glenn, left, and a NASA technician try a low-tech — but very direct — way of helping fellow astronaut Wally Schirra drain his pressure suit of water after testing it in a pool in 1960. Knowing the suit's flotation properties may have helped save the life of Gus Grissom, who wound up paddling in the Atlantic Ocean after the hatch of his spacecraft blew off following splashdown.
The Magnificent Seven The original seven Mercury astronauts examine a rough model of the Mercury-Atlas rocket in 1959. Back row, from left: Al Shepard, Wally Schirra and John Glenn; front row, from left: Gus Grissom, Scott Carpenter, Deke Slayton and Gordon Cooper.
High-Tech Testing Glenn, in 1962, in a fully pressurized suit, prepares to enter an altitude chamber, which simulates air pressure at various stages of flight.
Celestial Ambitions Scott Carpenter, left, and Glenn study the three-dimensional celestial trainer in 1961.
Another Balance Test Cold water is poured into Glenn's ear while goggles track his eye motions shortly before his 1962 flight. The water scrambles the balance system — one more test of how the astronaut would function in zero g.
Celestial Ambitions Scott Carpenter, left, and Glenn study the three-dimensional celestial trainer in 1961.
A Model Mercury Inside a training model of the Mercury spacecraft in 1961, Glenn familiarizes himself with the layout of the instrument panels. The capsule was so small, astronauts liked to say you didn't climb inside it — you simply put it on.
American astronaut John Glenn lies on a sofa and plays a trumpet for his wife Annie, who rests her head on a pillow on his lap, in Arlington, Va., 1961. The wall behind them holds a display of various models of jet aircraft, as well as a number of mounted photographs and certificates.
"Smilin' Al" Astronaut Al Shepard alternated between being playful and frosty, earning him the alternating nicknames Smilin' Al and the Ice Commander. Here, in 1961, he shows his goofier side as Glenn, controlled as always, betrays a bemused smile.
John Glenn boards the Friendship 7 capsule to become the first American to orbit the earth, during the Mercury-Atlas 6) mission, on Feb. 20, 1962.
Food for Flight Glenn, center, has his prelaunch breakfast on Feb. 20, 1962, with two NASA officials. The traditional meal — steak, eggs, toast, coffee and juice — was a surprisingly heavy one for a man about to experience the stomach-flipping phenomenon of zero g.
Suited Up Glenn's walk into history began in an unprepossessing hallway as he left the crew quarters on the morning of his Feb. 20, 1962, launch in the company of a flight surgeon and an equipment specialist.
Rocket Man Glenn blasts off on the morning of Feb. 20, 1962, for his three-orbit trip. About 4½ hours later, he was bobbing in the Atlantic — and entering the history books.
An Adoring Public Annie Glenn and Vice President Lyndon Johnson ride along as Glenn is accorded the singularly American ritual of a ticker-tape parade in 1962. Johnson led the Kennedy Administration's space push.
A Presidential Tribute On Feb. 23, 1962, three days after the successful mission, President Kennedy and Vice President Johnson visit Cape Canaveral, Fla., to present Glenn with NASA's Distinguished Service Medal. (Johnson is visible just behind Glenn at left.)
A Bid for the Senate Glenn entered politics in 1964 as a Democrat, campaigning for one of Ohio's Senate seats. A fall in the bathtub that ironically injured his exhaustively tested inner ear would cause him to scrub the campaign.
At Ease The 1964 campaign was brief, but Glenn's time in the glare of the media during his astronaut career had prepared him for it.
A Medical Mission In an ambulance in Ohio, Glenn prepares to be flown to Lackland Air Force Base in Texas for further treatment of his inner-ear injury in 1964.
On the National Stage Just two years after entering the Senate, Glenn was a short-list contender for the vice-presidential slot at the Democratic National Convention in 1976. Ultimately, presidential nominee Jimmy Carter chose Senator Walter Mondale from Minnesota.
A Political High At a soon-to-be packed Madison Square Garden in New York City in 1976, Glenn waves to a supporter before his keynote address to the Democratic convention.
A Run for the Highest Office (on Earth) A presidential candidate in 1984, Glenn campaigned with his wife Annie in New Hampshire. Though his Senate wins came easily after his first victory, Glenn proved a harder sell to a national electorate, mostly because of his dry — the media would call it boring — campaign style.
Return to Space John Glenn on the cover of TIME, Aug. 17, 1998.
Space Veterans Glenn and Carpenter, the last two survivors of the Original Seven, at the National Air and Space Museum in Washington in June 2011. A few weeks later, on July 8, the U.S. launched its last shuttle mission. Glenn mourned the end of the program, telling CBS, "We will not have our own means of getting into space, which I think is too bad. I don't like this at all." But the veteran astronaut did not believe the end of the shuttle would mean the end of America's space program: "I think we've had 50 years' job well done, but that's just the precursor to even greater things in the future."
No Ordinary Baby Glenn at nine months old in Cambridge, Ohio, in 1922. He would soon meet the neighborhood girl he would
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John Glenn: A Hero's Life in Pictures

Dec 08, 2016

John Glenn, among the seven men selected by NASA to become the country's first astronauts, died on Dec. 8 at age 95. The former military man, Senator and astronaut donned the hero mantle on Feb. 20, 1962, when he became the first American to orbit Earth. He wore it lightly and well ever since.

Here's a glimpse at his extraordinary life, from a black-and-white portrait when he was nine months old (with a finger pointed to the sky) to his return trip to space decades after his first. In between, there are the quiet moments with his wife, Annie; loud moments with the throngs of Americans cheering him on at a parade or ceremony; and insight into his political career from the 1970s to the late '90s.

As TIME's Jeffrey Kluger writes in his remembrance of Glenn, "So many Americans have never known a world that didn’t include him. And now all of us—Annie most acutely, but the rest of America too—will have to adjust to a world that is different. And is poorer."

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