NASA leaning toward letting Glenn make another space flight at age 77

January 15, 1998|By KNIGHT-RIDDER NEWS SERVICE

MIAMI -- Insisting that you're never too old for high-flying adventure, John Glenn -- the first American to orbit Earth and an influential senator -- is this close to blasting back into space this year.

At the age of 77.

The National Aeronautics and Space Administration is leaning toward approving his 10-day flight aboard shuttle Discovery in October. A decision could come in a few days.

"We're certainly looking at it," NASA spokesman Brian Welch said yesterday. "We take him seriously. There's a lot of buzz about it around here."

Said Glenn, "I'm keeping my fingers crossed."

"It's great. There's hope for us all," said John Pike, 44, space policy analyst for the Federation of American Scientists, a group often critical of NASA. "This is basically an inspirational adventure, and John Glenn is a national treasure."

One of the original Mercury astronauts, Glenn made history on Feb. 20, 1962, when he orbited the planet in the tiny Friendship 7 capsule. But he never returned to space, reportedly because NASA feared negative publicity if any harm befell its hero.

Pub Date: 1/15/98

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