Astronaut John Glenn, the first American to orbit the earth in 1962, died Thursday, Dec. 8 in a hospital in Ohio. He was 95.
Ohio governor John Kasich announced the death of the former Marine Corps pilot via Twitter.
“John Glenn is, and always will be, Ohio’s ultimate hometown hero, and his passing today is an occasion for all of us to grieve,” Kasich wrote.
Glenn was born on July 18, 1921 in Cambridge, Ohio. After studying engineering at Muskingum College, Glenn quit school to enlist in the Army during WWII. He wasn’t called to duty, however, and instead enlisted in the Navy before transferring to the Marines.
In 1958, Glenn applied to NASA as an astronaut, and barely made the requirements – he was close to the age cutoff of 40 and didn’t have a degree in science. Despite these setbacks, on Feb. 20, 1962, Glenn lifted off from Cape Canaveral in the Friendship 7 and circled the earth three times in five hours.
Glenn also served as one of the “Mercury Seven,” a group of astronauts that were a part of the first human spaceflight program of the U.S. Glenn was the last surviving member.
Glenn also became the oldest man in space on Oct. 29, 1998 when he boarded the Discovery shuttle and circled the earth 134 times over the course of nine days at 77 years old.
Glenn didn’t only make strides in space exploration, however. He served as an Ohio Senator from 1974 until 1999.
President Barack Obama said in a statement that Glenn spent his life breaking barriers.
“John always had the right stuff, inspiring generations of scientists, engineers and astronauts who will take us to Mars and beyond – not just to visit, but to stay,” Obama said.