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Glenn’s Space Flight Commemorated at Kennedy Library

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Glenn’s Space Flight Commemorated at Kennedy Library

News Release
For Immediate Release: Sept. 23, 1998
Further Information: Tom McNaught (617) 929-1230

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     Boston — In honor of Senator John Glenn's (D-Ohio) scheduled return to space on October 29, the John F. Kennedy Library and Museum today announced a special display of materials from the Library’s collection on Glenn’s first orbital space flight in 1962. The new exhibit opens Saturday, October 24.

     Included among the materials which will be displayed for the first time are a model of the Friendship 7 Project Mercury space capsule and the atlas booster rocket presented by Glenn to President Kennedy; a piece of hardware from the spacecraft’s Umbilical Cord, described in a letter to Kennedy from NASA chief James Webb as “the last link between the earth and the Mercury Capsule just before the moment of liftoff”; and a handwritten note from Glenn to Kennedy thanking him “for the many kindnesses and courtesies you have extended to me and my family.” Also displayed are a memo from President Kennedy to Vice President Lyndon Johnson, Chairman of the Space Council, asking if "we are working 24 hours a day on existing space programs" and whether the U.S. had "a chance of beating the Soviets" by putting a man on the moon, and Vice President Johnson's response; original celebratory buttons from 1962 emblazoned with “Welcome Back to Earth Glenn” and “The New Frontier Man of the Year - Astronaut John Glenn”; and a replica of Glenn’s space suit.

     The exhibit also features a video of Marine Corps Lieutenant Colonel Glenn's blastoff with commentary by CBS anchor Walter Cronkite; footage of Glenn in the orbiting capsule; and excerpts from President Kennedy's September 12, 1962 speech at Rice University in Houston, Texas where he restated the nation's resolve of landing a man on the moon and returning him safely to the earth before the decade was over.

     In his remarks following the successful orbital flight on February 20, 1962, President Kennedy described Glenn as "the kind of American of whom we are most proud." The President concluded by saying, "Some months ago I said that I hoped every American would serve his country. Today Colonel Glenn served his, and we all express our thanks to him."

     This past summer, Senator Glenn donated his services to the Kennedy Library and Museum by recording a public service radio ad promoting the Museum’s space program exhibit. In the radio spot, Glenn recalls:

     We were definitely in a race to see whether communism or our brand of democracy was going to survive. Against that backdrop (came) President Kennedy's declaration that we were going to go to the moon...we're going to set a goal and show the confidence in it that we could do it. And I gulped a few times when he made that pledge, but we did it.

     Back then, you know, some of the doctors had predicted even things like your eyeballs might change shape in extended weightlessness, or could you swallow, could you even control a spacecraft.

     I was privileged to represent this country once by doing the first orbital flight and here I am all these years later going up and having the same experience again. And that's exciting.

(Copies of the Glenn public service announcement are available to the press.)

     On February 20, 1962, Marine Corps Lieutenant Colonel John H. Glenn, Jr. became the first American to circle the earth during a five-hour flight that earned him the respect and love of the entire nation. John Glenn blasted into orbit as part of a space race between the United States and the Soviet Union in which the Americans were lagging. The successful completion of Glenn’s mission — he orbited the earth three times — did much to restore American prestige worldwide. Encased in a bulky, pressurized suit, strapped into a seat, and crammed into a tiny capsule, Glenn put his life at risk as he traveled at 17,500 miles per hour, 160 miles above earth.

     On October 29, the 77-year-old pioneer returns to space, this time to study the parallels between spaceflight and the aging process. To mark the launch of the STS-95 Mission, the Kennedy Library and Museum will incorporate the new materials on John Glenn as part of its permanent Space Program exhibit.

     The John F. Kennedy Library and Museum is the nation's official memorial to John F. Kennedy, 35th President of the United States. The Museum at the Kennedy Library offers visitors an opportunity to step back into the recreated world of the early 1960s and experience first hand the life and legacy of John F. Kennedy through 25 multi-media exhibits, including three theaters and period settings. From I.M. Pei's magnificent architectural achievement, guests enjoy panoramic views of Boston Harbor and the city's skyline. Located on a ten-acre waterfront park on Columbia Point, the Kennedy Library and Museum is open daily from 9-5.

     The John F. Kennedy Library and Museum is a presidential library administered by the National Archives and Records Administration and supported, in part, by the Kennedy Library Foundation, a non-profit organization. The Kennedy Library and the Kennedy Library Foundation seek to promote, through educational and community programs, a greater appreciation and understanding of American politics, history, and culture, the process of governing and the importance of public service.

John Fitzgerald Kennedy Library - Columbia Point - Boston, Massachusetts 02125
Tel: 1-877-616-4599
Fax: 617-929-4538

John Fitzgerald Kennedy Library Foundation - Columbia Point - Boston, Massachusetts 02125
Tel: 617-929-1200
Fax: 617-436-3395


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Page created September 23, 1998 updated: February 22, 2002

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