John Glenn, who became an American hero as the first U.S. citizen to orbit the Earth and then relived that glory 36 years later as the oldest man to go into space, has died. He was 95.

Glenn, who also served for 24 years as a U.S. senator from Ohio, died after being hospitalized in Ohio on Wednesday.

Ohio State University President Michael V. Drake confirmed his death, releasing a statement Thursday.

“The Ohio State University community deeply mourns the loss of John Glenn, Ohio’s consummate public servant and a true American hero. He leaves an undiminished legacy as one of the great people of our time,” he wrote.

In his first historic flight, Glenn circled the Earth for nearly five hours in a tiny spaceship on Feb. 20, 1962. To return to space on a nine-day mission aboard the shuttle Discovery in 1998, he had sold himself as a human guinea pig who — at 77 — would demonstrate the effects of space travel on the elderly.

The second celebrated trip did nearly as much to revive interest in America’s space program as his first pioneering voyage had to ignite the country’s fascination in space exploration.

 

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