John Glenn, oldest astronaut in space, dies aged 95
JOHN Glenn, who was the first US astronaut to orbit Earth and later returned to space become the oldest person in to do so, has died aged 95.
Glenn, who was also a US senator for almost a quarter of a century, died on Thursday afternoon at the James Cancer Hospital in Columbus, according to Hank Wilson of the John Glenn School of Public Affairs.
It had been revealed on Wednesday that Glenn had been hospitalised "more than a week ago" but his illness was not disclosed.
Mr Glenn had heart valve replacement surgery in 2014.
In 1962, Glenn became the first American to orbit the Earth. It was one year after the Soviet Union had sent Yuri Gagarin into orbit.
Mr Glenn was the third US astronaut in space and the first American in orbit, circling the Earth three times.
He received a distinguished service medal from then-president John F Kennedy upon his return and was greeted by millions for a ticker-tape parade in New York City.
In 1998, he returned to space at age 77, becoming the oldest person to ever do so.
We are saddened by the loss of Sen. John Glenn, the first American to orbit Earth. A true American hero. Godspeed, John Glenn. Ad astra. pic.twitter.com/89idi9r1NB— NASA (@NASA) December 8, 2016
US President Barack Obama released a statement paying tribute to Mr Glenn, stating: "With John's passing, our nation has lost an icon and Michelle and I have lost a friend.
"John spent his life breaking barriers, from defending our freedom as a decorated Marine Corps fighter pilot in World War II and Korea, to setting a transcontinental speed record, to becoming, at age 77, the oldest human to touch the stars….
"The last of America's first astronauts has left us, but propelled by their example we know that our future here on Earth compels us to keep reaching for the heavens."