Good-bye to John Glenn

John Herschel Glenn Jr., America’s hero of the 1960s, has passed away at age 95. In 1962 Glenn became the first American to orbit the earth, circling three times. Before joining NASA, he was a distinguished fighter pilot in both World War II and Korea, with five Distinguished Flying Crosses and eighteen clusters.

He was one of the “Mercury Seven” group of military test pilots selected in 1959 by NASA to become America’s first astronauts. On February 20, 1962, Glenn flew the Friendship 7 mission and became the first American to orbit the Earth and the fifth person in space. Glenn received the Congressional Space Medal of Honor in 1978, and was inducted into the U.S. Astronaut Hall of Fame in 1990.

Add.–A fact I didn’t know: Glenn flew 149 combat missions in World War II and Korea, where his wingman and eventual lifelong friend was baseball legend Ted Williams.


What’s Growing on the Space Station’s Walls?


Microbial Tracking-1 (MT-1) is a three-part flight investigation that monitors the types of microbes present on the surfaces and in the air of the space station over a one-year period. Sampling microbes multiple times enables scientists to understand the diversity of microbes on the station and how the microbial population varies over time. After astronauts collect microbes, they send samples back to Earth for further study. The first two sets of samples have been returned to Earth and analyzed. The third flight launched on the eighth cargo resupply mission of a SpaceX Dragon capsule to the space station April 8, and will complete the series. The final samples are planned to return on Dragon as soon as May 11.

The photo below shows both fungal and bacterial colonies, but of course it would be difficult to say exactly what they are. If you drill down far enough on the site, you will find that they are (surprise!) mostly human skin flora.


Today in history

From Cape Canaveral, Florida, Navy Commander Alan Bartlett Shepard Jr. is launched into space aboard the Freedom 7 space capsule, becoming the first American astronaut to travel into space. The suborbital flight, which lasted 15 minutes and reached a height of 116 miles into the atmosphere, was a major triumph for the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA).


Today in history

April 13, 1970–“Houston, we’ve had a problem.”

Apollo 13, headed for the moon with astronauts James A. Lovell, John L. Swigert, and Fred W. Haise, suffered an oxygen tank explosion, scrubbing the mission and placing the crew in peril. The crew and engineers on Earth overcame enormous logistical problems to bring the crew safely back home.

NASA did get back on that horse and ride it, with 4 more missions to the moon, but none of the three Apollo 13 crew members were among those who actually set foot on Earth’s satellite.