Who Are The Most Famous Astronauts?

There have been many astronauts who have made tremendous contributions to our knowledge of space. But asking “who is the most famous?” is somewhat tricky. For one, its a bit subjective. And second, it can be hard to objectively measure just how important and individuals contributions really are. Surely, all astronauts are deserving of recognition and respect for their bravery and contributions to the pursuit of knowledge.

Nevertheless, in the course of human space exploration, some names do stand out more than others. And some have made such immense contributions that their names will live on long after we too have passed away. So without further ado, here are just a few of the most famous astronauts, along with a list of their accomplishments.

Yuri Gagarin:

As the first man to ever go into space, no list of famous astronauts would be complete without Yuri Gagarin. Born in the village of Klushino in the Smolensk Oblast on March 9th, 1934, Gagarin was drafted into the Soviet Air Force in 1955 and trained in the use of jet fighters. In 1960, he was selected alongside 19 other pilots to join the newly-formed Soviet Space Program.

Yury Gagarin before a space flight aboard the Vostok spacecraft. April 12, 1961 Credit: RIA Novosti
Yuri Gagarin before a space flight aboard the Vostok 1 spacecraft, April 12th, 1961. Credit: RIA Novosti

Gagarin was further selected to become part of the Sochi Six, an elite group of cosmonauts who formed the backbone of the Vostok program. Due to his training, physical size (as the spacecraft were quite cramped), and favor amongst his peers, Gagarin was selected to be the first human cosmonaut (they had already sent dogs) to make the journey.

On April 12th, 1961, Gagarin was launched aboard the Vostok 1 spacecraft from the Baikonur Cosmodrome, and thus became the fist man to go into space. During reentry, Gagarin claimed to have whistled “The Motherland Hears, The Motherland Knows”, and reportedly said, “I don’t see any God up here” when he reached suborbital altitude (which was falsely attributed).

Afterwards, he toured the world and became a celebrity at home, commemorated with stamps, statues, and the renaming of his ancestral village to Gagarin. The 12th of April is also known as “Cosmonauts Day” in Russia and many former Soviet-states in his honor.

Gagarin died during a routine training exercise in March 27th, 1968. The details of his death were not released until June of 2013, when a declassified report indicated that Gagarin’s death was caused by the error of another pilot.

Alan B. Shepard Jr.:

In addition to being an astronaut and one of the Mercury Seven – the first seven pilots selected by NASA to go into space – Shepard was also the first American man to go into space. He was born November 18th, 1923 in Pebble, California and graduated from the United States Naval Academy with a Bachelor of Science degree. While in the Navy, Shepard became a fighter pilot and served aboard several aircraft carriers in the Mediterranean.

Alan Shepard prepares for his historic flight on May 5, 1961. Credit: NASA
Alan Shepard prepares for his historic flight on May 5, 1961. Credit: NASA

In 1959, he was selected as one of 110 military test pilots to join NASA. As 0ne of the seven Mercury astronauts, Shepard was selected to be the first to go up on May 5th, 1961. Known as the Freedom 7 mission, this flight placed him into a suborbital flight around Earth. Unfortunately, Alan was beaten into space by Soviet cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin by only a few weeks, and hence became the first American to go into space.

Shepard went on to lead other missions, including the Apollo 14 mission – which was the third mission to land on the Moon. While on the lunar surface, he was photographed playing a round of golf and hit two balls across the surface. After leaving NASA, he became a successful businessman. He died of leukemia on July 21st, 1998, five weeks before the death of his wife of 53 years.

Valentina Tereshkova:

Another famous Russian cosmonaut, Tereshkova is also internationally renowned for being the first woman to go into space. Born in the village of Maslennikovo in central Russia on March 6th, 1937, Tereshkova became interested in parachuting from a young age and began training at the local aeroclub.

After Gagarin’s historic flight in 1961, the Soviets hopes to also be the first country to put a woman into space. On 16 February 1962, Valentina Tereshkova was selected to join the female cosmonaut corps, and was selected amongst hundreds to be one of five women who would go into space.

In addition to her expertise in parachuting (which was essential since Vostok pilots were to parachute from the capsule after reentry), her background as a “proletariat”, and the fact that her father was a war hero from the Russo-Finnish War, led to her being selected.

Soviet Cosmonaut Valentina Tereshkova photographed inside the Vostok-6 spacecraft on June 16, 1963. Credit: Roscosmos
Soviet Cosmonaut Valentina Tereshkova photographed inside the Vostok-6 spacecraft on June 16, 1963. Credit: Roscosmos

Her mission, Vostok 6, took place on June 16th, 1963. During her flight, Tereshkova orbited Earth forty-eight times, kept a flight log and took photographs that would prove useful to atmospheric studies. Aside from some nausea (which she later claimed was the result of spoiled food!) she maintained herself for the full three days and parachuted down during re-entry, landing a bit hard and bruising her face.

After returning home, Tereshkova went on to become a cosmonaut engineer and spent the rest of her life in key political positions. She married fellow cosmonaut Andrian Nikolayev and had a daughter. After her flight, the women’s corps was dissolved. Vostok 6 was to be the last of the Vostok flights, and it would be nineteen years before another woman would go into space (see Sally Ride, below).

John Glenn Jr.:

Colonel Glenn, USMC (retired) was a Marine Corps fighter pilot and a test pilot before becoming an astronaut. Due to his experience, he was chosen by NASA to be part of the Mercury Seven in 1959. On February 20, 1962, Glenn flew the Friendship 7 mission, and thus became the first American astronaut to orbit the Earth and the fifth person to go into space.

John Glenn enters his Friendship 7 spacecraft on On Feb. 20, 1962. Credit: NASA
John Glenn enters his Friendship 7 spacecraft on On Feb. 20, 1962. Credit: NASA

For his contributions to spaceflight, John Glenn earned the Space Congressional Medal of Honor. After an extensive career as an astronaut, Glenn retired from NASA on January 16th, 1964, to enter politics. He won his first bid to become a US Senator in 1974, representing Ohio for the Democratic Party, and was reelected numerous times before retiring in January of 1999.

With the death of Scott Carpenter on October 10, 2013, he became the last surviving member of the Mercury Seven. He was also the only astronaut to fly in both the Mercury and Space Shuttle programs – at age 77, he flew as a Payload Specialist on Discovery mission (STS-95). For his history of service, he was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2012.

Neil Armstrong:

Neil Armstrong is arguably the most famous astronauts, and indeed one of the most famous people that has ever lived. As commander of the historic Apollo 11 mission, he will forever be remembered as the first man to ever walk on a body other than Earth. Born on August 5th, 1930, in Wapakoneta, Ohio, he graduated from Purdue University and served the National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics High-Speed Flight Station before becoming an astronaut.

Neil A. Armstrong inside the Lunar Module after EVA
Neil A. Armstrong inside the Lunar Module after EVA. Credit: NASA

In accordance with the Holloway Plan, Neil studied at Purdue for two years and then committed to three years of military service as a naval aviator before completing his degree. During this time, he trained in the use of jet aircraft and became a test pilot at Andrews Air Force base, meeting such personalities as Chuck Yeager.

In 1962, when NASA was looking to create a second group of astronauts (after the Mercury 7), Armstrong joined and became part of the Gemini program. He flew two missions, as the command pilot and back-up command pilot for Gemini 8 and Gemini 11 (both in 1966), before being offered a spot with the Apollo program.

On July 16th, 1969, Armstrong went into space aboard the Apollo 11 spacecraft, alongside “Buzz” Aldrin and Michael Collins. On the 20th, after the lunar module set down on the surface,  he became the first person to walk on the Moon.  As he stepped onto the lunar surface, Armstrong uttered the famous words, “That’s one small step for a man, one giant leap for mankind.”

After retiring from NASA in 1971, Armstrong completed his master’s degree in aerospace engineering, became a professor at the University of Cincinnati, and a private businessman.

On Augusts 25th, 2012, he died at the age of 82 after suffering complications from coronary artery bypass surgery. On September 14th, his cremated remains were scattered in the Atlantic Ocean during a burial-at-sea ceremony aboard the USS Philippine Sea.

For his accomplishments, Armstrong was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the Congressional Space Medal of Honor, and the Congressional Gold Medal in 2009.

James Lovell Jr.:

Lovell was born on March 25th, 1928 in Cleveland, Ohio. Like Shepard, he graduated from the US Naval Academy and served as a pilot before becoming one of the Mercury Seven. Over the course of his career, he flew several missions into space and served in multiple roles. The first was as the pilot of the Apollo 8 command module, which was the first spacecraft to enter lunar orbit.

He also served as backup commander during the Gemini 12 mission, which included a rendezvous with another manned spacecraft. However, he is most famous for his role as commander the Apollo 13 mission, which suffered a critical failure en route to the Moon but was brought back safely due to the efforts of her crew and the ground control team.

Lovell is a recipient of the Congressional Space Medal of Honor and the Presidential Medal of Freedom. He is one of only 24 people to have flown to the Moon, the first of only three people to fly to the Moon twice, and the only one to have flown there twice without making a landing. Lovell was also the first person to fly in space four times.

Original crew photo. Left to right: Lovell, Mattingly, Haise. Credit: NASA
Original crew photo, (left to right) Jim Lovell, Thomas K. Mattingly, and Fred W. Haise. Credit: NASA

Dr. Sally Ride:

Sally Ride became renowned in the 1980s for being one of the first women to go into space. Though Russians had already sent up two female astronauts – Valentina Tereshkova (1963) and Svetlana Savitskaya (1982) – Ride was the first American female astronaut to make the journey. Born on May 26th, 1951, in La Jolla, California, Ride received her doctorate from Stanford University before joining NASA in 1978.

On June 18th, 1983, she became the first American female astronaut to go into space as part of the STS-7 mission that flew aboard the space shuttle Challenger. While in orbit, the five-person crew deployed two communications satellites and Ride became the first woman to use the robot arm (aka. Canadarm).

Her second space flight was in 1984, also on board the Challenger. In 1986, Ride was named to the Rogers Commission, which was charged with investigating the space shuttle Challenger disaster. In 2003, she would serve on the committee investigating the space shuttle Columbia disaster, and was the only person to serve on both.

Sally Ride communicates with ground controllers from the flight deck during the six-day mission in Challenger, 1983. Credit: U.S. National Archives and Records Administration
Sally Ride communicates with ground controllers from the flight deck during STL-7 in 1983. Credit: U.S. National Archives and Records Administration

Ride retired from NASA in 1987 as a professor of physics and continued to teach until her death in 2012 from pancreatic cancer. For her service, she was given numerous awards, which included the National Space Society’s von Braun Award, two NASA Space Flight Medals, and was inducted into the National Women’s Hall of Fame and the Astronaut Hall of Fame.

Chris Hadfield:

Last, but certainly not least, there’s Chris Hadfield, the Canadian astronaut, pilot and engineer who became famous for his rendition of “Space Oddity” while serving as the commander of the International Space Station. Born on August 29th, 1959 in Sarnia, Ontario, Hadfield became interesting in flying at a young age and in becoming an astronaut when he watched the televised Apollo 11 landing at age nine.

After graduating from high school, Hadfield joined the Canadian Armed Forces and spent two years at Royal Roads Military College followed by two years at the Royal Military College, where he received a bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering in 1982. He then became a fighter pilot with the Royal Canadian Air Force, flying missions for NORAD. He also flew as a test pilot out of Andrews Air Force Base as part of an officer exchange.

In 1992, Hadfield became part of the Canadian Space Agency and was assigned to NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Houston, as a technical and safety specialist for Shuttle Operations Development. He participated in two space missions – STS-74 and STS-100 in 1995 and 2001, respectively – as a Mission Specialist. These missions involved rendezvousing with Mir and the ISS.

Canadian astronaut Chris Hadfield, the first Canadian to serve as commander of the ISS. Credit: CTV
Canadian astronaut Chris Hadfield performing his rendition of “Space Oddity”. Hadfield is the first Canadian to serve as commander of the ISS. Credit: CTV

On December 19th 2012, Hadfield launched in the Soyuz TMA-07M flight for a long duration stay on board the ISS as part of Expedition 35. He became the first Canadian to command the ISS when the crew of Expedition 34 departed in March 2013, and received significant media exposure due to his extensive use of social media to promote space exploration.

Forbes described Hadfield as “perhaps the most social media savvy astronaut ever to leave Earth”. His promotional activities included a collaboration with Ed Robertson of The Barenaked Ladies and the Wexford Gleeks, singing “Is Somebody Singing? (I.S.S.) via Skype. The broadcast of this event was a major media sensation, as was his rendition of David Bowie’s “Space Oddity“, which he sung shortly before departing the station in May 2013.

For his service, Hadfield has received numerous honors, including the Order of Canada in 2014, the Vanier Award in 2001, NASA Exceptional Service Medal in 2002, the Queen’s Golden Jubilee Medal in 2002, and the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee Medal in 2012. He is also the only Canadian to have received both a military and civilian Meritorious Service Cross, the military medal in 2001 and the civilian one in 2013.

Universe Today has interesting articles on Neil Armstrong, “Buzz” Edwin Aldrin, and the enduring legacy of Apollo 11.

If you are looking for more information, you should check out famous aviators and astronauts and astronaut biographies.

Astronomy Cast has an episode on the US space shuttle.

Sources:
NASA: Alan Shepard Jr
NASA: Neil Armstrong
NASA: John Glenn
NASA: James Lovell Jr.
NASA: Sally Ride

Hollywood’s Mixed Portrayal of John Glenn

We’ll be the first to admit that the 1983 movie The Right Stuff takes artistic license when it talks about the Mercury program and other events. It exaggerates problems between the astronauts, portrays the journalists as unthinking buffoons and misrepresents historical events such as breaking the speed of sound.

Late in the three-hour film, the movie turns to astronaut John Glenn‘s first flight in space, which took place on this day in 1962. Glenn was the first American to make an orbital flight of the Earth. He returned a national hero.

Below we’ll highlight a few points of similarity and difference between the movie and John Glenn’s own account of the flight of Friendship 7, which he detailed in his 1999 biography John Glenn: A Memoir. And yes, the rest of this post does contain spoilers for those who haven’t seen the film.

– Visit from Lyndon Johnson. During an aborted launch attempt, the movie shows Lyndon Johnson parked nearby the Glenns’ house in a limousine, ordering an aide to let him inside. Glenn’s wife Annie (through a fellow astronaut wife) keeps informing the hapless assistant that there’s no way Johnson (and the TV cameras he wants to include) can come in. While Glenn’s actual account doesn’t specify where the vice-president of the United States was at that time, he does talk about the request and refusal. “She said she was tired, she had a headache, and she just wasn’t going to allow all those people in her house … I told her whatever she wanted to do, I would back her up 100 percent.”

– Threat to remove Glenn from the flight. In The Right Stuff, Glenn then gets into a shouting argument with a NASA official nearby, who orders him to get on the phone and tell Annie to let the vice-president in. The NASA official threatens to replace Glenn with another astronaut, at which point Glenn’s colleagues surround him and the official backs down. Glenn confirms the incident, but does not mention other astronauts: “I saw red. I said that if they wanted to do that, they’d have a press conference to announce their decision and I’d have one to announce mine, and if they wanted to talk about it anymore, they’d have to wait until I took a shower. When I came back, they were gone and I never heard any more about it.”

John Glenn enters his Friendship 7 spacecraft on On Feb. 20, 1962. Credit: NASA
John Glenn enters his Friendship 7 spacecraft on On Feb. 20, 1962. Credit: NASA

– Fireflies. An extended sequence in The Right Stuff shows Glenn exclaiming as he sees “fireflies” outside of the spacecraft. The movie doesn’t really explain why they happen, but yes, they actually were there. “I saw around the capsule a huge field of particles that looked like tiny yellow stars,” Glenn wrote in his memoir. “They seemed to travel with the capsule, but more slowly. There were thousands of them, like swirling fireflies.” Glenn added: “They were droplets of frozen water vapor from the capsule’s heat exchanger system, but their fireflylike glow remains a mystery.” However, fellow astronaut Scott Carpenter noted frost flakes from his spacecraft, Aurora 7 on the next Mercury flight after Glenn’s, and floating nearby. They shone when the Sun illuminated the flakes. He also noticed more flakes coming off the side of his spacecraft when he banged the inside.

– Activities in orbit. While allowing that The Right Stuff probably had other priorities in mind, the movie does not show Glenn doing much in orbit besides gazing out the window and talking about the aforementioned fireflies. Glenn’s book shows him doing more than that: taking his blood pressure, snapping pictures of the Canaries and Sahara Desert, testing his vision, and doing exercises with a bungee cord to compare his readings to previous ones taken on the ground.

– Lights on in Perth and Rockingham, Australia. Glenn and a ground station in Australia chat about the residents of Rockingham and Perth turning on their lights for him. This actually did happen (and it happened again when Glenn returned to space in 1998.)

– Decision to bring Glenn down after three orbits. The movie accurately says Glenn was go for at least seven orbits, but then shows Glenn being confused when he’s told to come down after only three. Glenn contradicts that directly in his account: “The mission was planned for three orbits, but it meant that I could go for at least seven if I had to.”

The launch of John Glenn on Mercury 6.  Credit: NASA
The launch of John Glenn on Mercury 6. Credit: NASA

Heat shield threat. The movie shows Mission Control grappling with a signal indication that the landing bag deployed, which implies that the heat shield might have cut loose prematurely. They recommend Glenn refrain from removing a retrorocket package that usually was jettisoned after the rockets fire for re-entry, and keep it on the spacecraft to hold the heat shield on. Glenn talks at length about the situation in his book, and expresses frustration that he didn’t receive information quickly: “I was irritated by the cat-and-mouse game they were playing with the information.” It turned out to be a false alarm.

– Humming. Glenn hums a lot in the movie during the re-entry, especially as the gravity forces build up on him. The astronaut makes no mention of doing so in his book. Long-standing New York Times space journalist John Noble Wilford unequivocally stated the movie was wrong: “Mr. Glenn did not hum ”The Battle Hymn of the Republic” during re-entry,” he wrote in a 1983 review of the movie.

Current Astronauts in Orbit Exchange Notes with John Glenn

If you weren’t able to watch live, this is a fun exchange between the current astronauts in orbit, talking with one of the first people ever to see Earth from an orbital perspective. The astronauts aboard the International Space Station talked with Senator John Glenn during an in-flight call this week, to celebrate the 50th anniversary of Glenn’s historic Friendship 7 space flight. The event was part of NASA’s Future Forum at The Ohio State University in Columbus, Ohio.

Friendship 7: 50th Anniversary of John Glenn’s Flight

On Feb. 20, 1962, John Glenn launched on the Friendship 7 flight, or Mercury 6, the first human orbital flight for NASA. Last night NASA premiered a video to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the flight, and have now made it available to share.

Glenn launched at 9:47:39 am EST from Cape Canaveral, orbiting Earth three times, with his flight lasting 4 hours and 55 minutes. In total he flew 121,793 km (75,679 miles) reaching a speed of 28,234 km/h (17,544 mph.)

Why was his flight named Mercury 6, and why the nickname of Friendship 7?
Continue reading “Friendship 7: 50th Anniversary of John Glenn’s Flight”

Happy 90th Birthday John Glenn!

He’s an American space icon, and today he turns 90 years of age. “John Glenn is a legend, and NASA sends him our best wishes on this major personal milestone,” NASA Administrator Charles Bolden said in a statement. 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.”

What better way to look back a Glenn’s achievements than this 1963 NASA video, found in the National Archives Repository.

Hat tip: Rachel Hobson

The Mystery of John Glenn’s Fireflies Returns

[/caption]

What were the “fireflies” that John Glenn saw during the first orbital spaceflight for the US? Enjoy a new “you-were-there” look at the stories of early space exploration from the original NASA transcripts, but in a vastly improved format. A new website called Spacelog has put the transcripts in a searchable, linkable format. Spacelog is an open source venture making the transcripts more accessible to the public, and adding photos and timelines in with the text. Currently the Apollo 13 mission and Mercury Friendship 7 mission are available with more coming in the future. A linking feature allows users to Tweet and link to particular parts of the transcripts. As an open source project, Spacelog is also looking for help.

Below is the part of the Friendship 7 transcript where John Glenn describes small, mysteriously illuminated particles surrounding his capsule:

John Glenn

This is Friendship Seven. I’ll try to describe what I’m in here. I am in a big mass of some very small particles, that are brilliantly lit up like they’re luminescent. I never saw anything like it. They round a little; they’re coming by the capsule, and they look like little stars. A whole shower of them coming by.
00 01 15 57

John Glenn
They swirl around the capsule and go in front of the window and they’re all brilliantly lighted. They probably average maybe 7 or 8 feet apart, but I can see them all down below me, also.
00 01 16 06
CAPCOM
Roger, Friendship Seven. Can you hear any impact with the capsule? Over.
00 01 16 10
John Glenn
Negative, negative. They’re very slow; they’re not going away from me more than maybe 3 or 4 miles per hour. They’re going at the same speed I am approximately. They’re only very slightly under my speed. Over.
00 01 16 33
John Glenn
They do, they do have a different motion, though, from me because they swirl around the capsule and then depart back the way I am looking.
00 01 16 46
John Glenn
Are you receiving? Over.

———-

What were these fireflies? In the movie “The Right Stuff” the fireflies were given the illusion of being mystical or perhaps alien — or maybe part of Glenn’s imagination. People in mission control were worried the heat shield on his spacecraft could be falling apart.

The answer wasn’t confirmed until the next Mercury mission, Aurora 7, with astronaut Scott Carpenter on board in May 1962. Carpenter also saw the fireflies, or snowflakes, as he called them, and quickly could identify the source. They were tiny white pieces of frost from the side of the spacecraft. Condensation gathered on the outside of the spacecraft as the capsule passed from the cold orbital darkness and warm sunlight, and then froze again, creating a layer of frost. As the spacecraft again came into sunlight, the frost flakes would come off and float around the capsule. The sunlight also illuminated them, making them “luminescent.” When Carpenter banged on the side of the capsule, more flakes came off and were visible.

Read more at Spacelog.

John Glenn: Keep the Space Shuttles Flying

John Glenn

[/caption]

US spaceflight legend John Glenn has weighed in on the current human spaceflight debate, releasing an 8-page paper outlining his feelings and a potential plan to allow US astronauts to keep launching on US vehicles. While Glenn supports President Barack Obama’s plan to extend operations of the International Space Station and to forego returning to the Moon for the time being, he thinks retiring the space shuttles at this point is a mistake.

“The world’s only heavy lift spacecraft and the U.S.’s only access to space should stay in operation until suitably replaced by a new and well tested heavy lift vehicle,” Glenn wrote. “The Shuttle system is working extremely well, has had systems upgrades through the years, and has had “the bugs” worked out of it through many years of use. The Shuttle is probably the most complex vehicle ever assembled and flies in the harshest of environments. Why terminate a perfectly good system that has been made more safe and reliable through many years of development?”

But Glenn said the US also needs to develop heavy lift capability, and do it sooner rather than later. And while he supports the plan for NASA to contract with commercial companies to ferry astronauts and some cargo to and from the ISS, he also said NASA can’t rely solely on commercial space vehicles, which at present are unproven in their reliability.

Keeping the space shuttle program going would cost about $1 Billion a year. “That is a very small price to pay for maximizing the benefits from a $100 Billion national investment, and may even be cheaper than the final bill from the Russians,” Glenn said.

He blames NASA’s current predicament on Congress for not adequately funding the Constellation program.

He erred, however, in his statement that the “U.S. for the first time since the beginning of the Space Age will have no way to launch anyone into space – starting next January.” NASA did not launch humans into space from July 1975 to April 1981 – the end of Apollo and Skylab until the beginning of the shuttle era, as well as when spacecraft were grounded following the Apollo 1 fire in 1967, the Challenger accident in 1986 and the Columbia accident in 2003.

Glenn is the latest former astronaut to join the debate on NASA’s future and while some ex-astronauts are staunchly against cutting the Constellation program to return to the Moon, and others wholly endorse the plan, Glenn seemingly takes a middle ground.

Here are his suggested objectives:

Short Term
Extend the Shuttle. It is key to ISS ready access. Phase-in new space access providers only as they become experienced and have proven reliability.

Maximize research on the ISS – plan with the science community.

Use the ISS for long term Mars mission training.

Develop a fully tested replacement heavy-lift capability.

Long Term

Robotic exploration of Mars and other destinations such as asteroids.

Continue ISS research as long as it is making substantial contributions.

Increase preparation and planning for a Mars mission.

Determine – earth-to-Mars, or assembled-in-earth-orbit – to Mars.

Set a firm schedule –Go for Mars.

You can read Glenn’s full statement here.

This is not the first time Glenn has proposed to keep the shuttles flying. In 2008, he said “The shuttles may be old, but they’re still the most complex vehicles ever put together by people, and they’re still working very well,” he said after a Capitol Hill ceremony marking NASA’s 50th anniversary.