Tributes paid to former astronaut John Glenn - the first American to orbit earth

FILE - In this Feb. 20, 2012, file photo, U.S. Sen. John Glenn talks with astronauts on the International Space Station via satellite before a discussion titled "Learning from the Past to Innovate for the Future" in Columbus, Ohio. Glenn, who was the first U.S. astronaut to orbit Earth and later spent 24 years representing Ohio in the Senate, has died at 95. (AP Photo/Jay LaPrete, File)

FILE - In this Feb. 20, 2012, file photo, U.S. Sen. John Glenn talks with astronauts on the International Space Station via satellite before a discussion titled "Learning from the Past to Innovate for the Future" in Columbus, Ohio. Glenn, who was the first U.S. astronaut to orbit Earth and later spent 24 years representing Ohio in the Senate, has died at 95. (AP Photo/Jay LaPrete, File)

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TRIBUTES WERE paid last night to former astronaut John Glenn, the first American to orbit Earth, who has died aged 95.

The former Marine and US Senator is best known for circling the earth in 1962 aboard a space capsule dubbed Friendship 7. Glenn had been in hospital in Columbus, Ohio, for more than a week and died surrounded by his children and wife of 73 years.

Ohio Governor John Kasich said: “Though he soared deep into space and to the heights of Capitol Hill, his heart never strayed from his steadfast Ohio roots. Godspeed, John Glenn!.”

Upon returning to Earth Glenn served the US Senate as a Democrat for 25 years. In 1998, 36 years after his historic flight, he became the oldest man to travel to space at age 77. He is expected to be buried at Arlington National Cemetery, Virginia.

Glenn resigned from NASA on January 16, 1964, and the next day announced plans to run for a US Senate seat from Ohio. However, a fall which resulted in a concussion caused him to withdraw from the race. He retired from the Marine Corps in 1965. A member of the Democratic Party, he finally won election to the Senate in 1974 and served through January 3, 1999. With the death of Edward Brooke on January 3, 2015, Glenn became the oldest living former United States Senator.

At 77, he flew as a Payload Specialist on Discovery mission STS-95. He was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2012.

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