Astronaut John Glenn, First American to Orbit Earth

Cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin, First Human and Russian to Orbit Earth

 

 

 

Discussion:

 

In the Race to Space during the 1950s, two men played key roles.  John Glenn and Yuri Gagarin became heroes of their respective countries, the United States and the Soviet Union.  While America and Russia had much different governing systems, democracy and communism, their spacemen were much alike.  Read the Wikipedia biographies and list how each man was similar.  Next, author a one page paper discussing these likenesses.

 

Yuri Gagarin

 

Early life

Yuri Gagarin was born in the village of Klushino near Gzhatsk (now in Smolensk Oblast, Russia), on 9 March 1934. The adjacent town of Gzhatsk was renamed Gagarin in 1968 in his honour. His parents, Alexey Ivanovich Gagarin and Anna Timofeyevna Gagarina, worked on a collective farm. While manual labourers are described in official reports as "peasants", this may be an oversimplification if applied to his parents — his mother was reportedly a voracious reader, and his father a skilled carpenter. Yuri was the third of four children, and his elder sister helped raise him while his parents worked. Like millions of people in the Soviet Union, the Gagarin family suffered during Nazi occupation in World War II. His two elder siblings were deported to Nazi Germany for slave labour in 1943, and did not return until after the war. While a youth, Yuri became interested in space and planets, and began to dream about his space tour which would one day become a reality. Yuri was described by his teachers in the Moscow satellite town of Lyubertsy as intelligent and hard-working, if occasionally mischievous. His mathematics and science teacher had flown in the Soviet Air Forces during the war, which presumably made some substantial impression on young Gagarin.           

 

After starting an apprenticeship in a metalworks

 as a foundryman, Gagarin was selected for further training at a technical high school in Saratov. While there, he joined the "AeroClub", and learned to fly a light aircraft, a hobby that would take up an increasing proportion of his time. In 1955, after completing his technical schooling, he entered military flight training at the Orenburg Pilot's School. While there he met Valentina Goryacheva, whom he married in 1957, after gaining his pilot's wings in a MiG-15. Post-graduation, he was assigned to Luostari airbase in Murmansk Oblast, close to the Norwegian border, where terrible weather made flying risky. As a full-grown man, Gagarin was 1.57 metres (5 ft 2 in) tall, which was an advantage in the small Vostok cockpit. He became Lieutenant of the Soviet Air Force on 5 November 1957 and on 6 November 1959 he received the rank of Senior Lieutenant.

 

Sports

 

Gagarin kept physically fit throughout his life, and was a keen sportsman. fan, and coached the Saratov Industrial Technical School team, as well as being an umpire/referee.

 

Career in the Soviet space program

Selection and training

 

In 1960, after the search and selection process, Yuri Gagarin was selected with 19 other cosmonauts for the Soviet space program. Along with the other prospective cosmonauts, he was subjected to experiments designed to test his physical and psychological endurance; he also underwent training for the upcoming flight. Out of the twenty selected, the eventual choices for the first launch were Gagarin and Gherman Titov because of their performance in training, as well as their physical characteristics — space was at a premium in the small Vostok cockpit and both men were rather short.

 

Space flight

Main article: Vostok 1

 

On 12 April 1961, Gagarin became the first man to travel into space, launching to orbit aboard the Vostok 3KA-3 (Vostok 1

). His call sign in this flight was Kedr (Cedar; Russian: Кедр). During his flight, Gagarin famously whistled the tune "The Motherland Hears, The Motherland Knows" (Russian: "Родина слышит, Родина знает").  The first two lines of the song are: "The Motherland hears, the Motherland knows/Where her son flies in the sky". This patriotic song was written by Dmitri Shostakovich in 1951 (opus 86), with words by Yevgeniy Dolmatovsky.                                                                                        

 

Around the same time, some Western sources claimed that Gagarin, during his space flight, had made the comment, "I don't see any God up here." However, no such words appear in the verbatim record of Gagarin's conversations with the Earth during the spaceflight.  In a 2006 interview a close friend of Gagarin, Colonel Valentin Petrov, stated that Gagarin never said such words, and that the phrase originated from Nikita Khrushchev's speech at the plenum of the Central Committee of the CPSU, where the anti-religious propaganda was discussed. In a certain context Khrushchev said, "Gagarin flew into space, but didn't see any God there". Colonel Petrov also said that Gagarin had been baptised into the Orthodox Church as a child.

 

Fame and later life

 

After the flight, Gagarin became a worldwide celebrity, touring widely with appearances in Italy, the United Kingdom, Germany, Canada, and Japan to promote the Soviet achievement.                     

 

In 1962, he began serving as a deputy to the Supreme Soviet of the Soviet Union. He later returned to Star City, the cosmonaut facility, where he worked on designs for a reusable spacecraft. Gagarin worked on these designs in Star City for seven years. He became Lieutenant Colonel (or Podpolkovnik) of the Soviet Air Force on 12 June 1962 and on 6 November 1963 he received the rank of Colonel (Polkovnik

) of the Soviet Air Force.[3] Soviet officials tried to keep him away from any flights, being worried of losing their hero in an accident. Gagarin was backup pilot for Vladimir Komarov in the Soyuz 1 flight. As Komarov's flight ended in a fatal crash, Gagarin was ultimately banned from training for and participating in further spaceflights.

 

Death and legacy

 

Gagarin then became deputy training director of the Star City cosmonaut training base. At the same time, he began to re-qualify as a fighter pilot. On 27 March 1968, while on a routine training flight from Chkalovsky Air Base, he and flight instructor Vladimir Seryogin died in a MiG-15UTI crash near the town of Kirzhach. Gagarin and Seryogin were buried in the walls of the Kremlin on Red Square.

 

It is not certain what caused the crash, but a 1986 inquest suggests that the turbulence from a Su-11 'Fishpot-C' interceptor using its afterburners may have caused Gagarin's plane to go out of control.

 

Russian documents declassified in March 2003 showed that the KGB had conducted their own investigation of the accident, in addition to one government and two military investigations. The KGB's report dismissed various conspiracy theories, instead indicating that the actions of air base personnel contributed to the crash. The report states that an air traffic controller provided Gagarin with outdated weather information, and that by the time of his flight, conditions had deteriorated significantly. Ground crew also left external fuel tanks attached to the aircraft. Gagarin's planned flight activities needed clear weather and no outboard tanks. The investigation concluded that Gagarin's aircraft entered a spin, either due to a bird strike or because of a sudden move to avoid another aircraft. Because of the out-of-date weather report, the crew believed their altitude to be higher than it actually was, and could not properly react to bring the MiG-15 out of its spin.

                                                                                               

In his 2004 book Two Sides of the Moon, Alexey Leonov recounts that he was flying a helicopter in the same area that day when he heard "two loud booms in the distance." Corroborating other theories, his conclusion is that a Sukhoi jet (which he identifies as a Su-15 'Flagon') was flying below its minimum allowed altitude, and "without realizing it because of the terrible weather conditions, he passed within 10 or 20 meters of Yuri and Seregin's plane while breaking the sound barrier." The resulting turbulence would have sent the MiG into an uncontrolled spin. Leonov believes the first boom he heard was that of the jet breaking the sound barrier, and the second was Gagarin's plane crashing.           

                                   

A new theory, advanced by the original crash investigator in 2005, hypothesizes that a cabin air vent was accidentally left open by the crew or the previous pilot, leading to oxygen deprivation and leaving the crew incapable of controlling the aircraft.

 

John Glenn

 

Early life and military career

 

John Glenn was born in Cambridge, Ohio, to John Herschel Glenn and his wife Teresa (née Sproat). He was raised in New Concord, Ohio. Glenn studied chemistry at Muskingum College, and received his private pilot's license as physics course credit in 1941. When the attack on Pearl Harbor brought the United States into World War II, he dropped out of college and enlisted in the U.S. Army Air Corps. However, the Army did not call him up, and in March 1942 he enlisted as a United States Navy aviation cadet. He trained at Naval Air Station Olathe, where he made his first solo flight in a military aircraft. In 1943, during advanced training at the Naval Air Station Corpus Christi, he was reassigned to the United States Marine Corps.[2] After completing his training, Glenn was assigned to Marine squadron VMJ-353, flying R4D transport planes. He eventually managed a transfer to VMF-155 as an F4U Corsair pilot, and flew 59 combat missions in the South Pacific.[3] He saw action over the Marshall Islands, where he attacked anti-aircraft batteries and dropped bombs on Maloelap. In 1945, he was assigned to Naval Air Station Patuxent River, Maryland, where he was promoted to captain shortly before the war ended.

 

Following the war, Glenn flew patrol missions in North China with VMF-218, until his squadron was transferred to Guam. He became a flight instructor at Naval Air Station Corpus Christi, Texas in 1948, then attended the amphibious warfare school and received a staff assignment.

                                   

Glenn was next assigned to VMF-311, flying the new F9F Panther jet interceptor. He flew his Panther in 63 combat missions during the Korean War, gaining the dubious nickname "magnet butt" from his apparent ability to attract enemy flak. Twice he returned to base with over 250 flak holes in his aircraft. Glenn flew for a time with Ted Williams, a future hall of fame baseball player for the Boston Red Sox, as his wingman.   

                                                                                                                       

Glenn flew a second Korean combat tour on an interservice exchange program with the United States Air Force. He logged 27 missions in the faster F-86F Sabre, and shot down three MiG-15s near the Yalu River in the final days before the cease fire.              

                                                           

Glenn returned to Naval Air Station Patuxent River, appointed to the Test Pilot School (class 12). He served as an armament officer, flying planes to high altitude and testing their cannons and machine guns. On July 16, 1957, Glenn completed the first supersonic transcontinental flight in a Vought F8U-1 Crusader. The flight from NAS Los Alamitos, California to Floyd Bennett Field, New York took 3 hours, 23 minutes and 8.4 seconds.

 

As he passed over his hometown, a child in the neighborhood reportedly ran to the Glenn house shouting "Johnny dropped a bomb! Johnny dropped a bomb! Johnny dropped a bomb!" as the sonic boom shook the town. Project Bullet, the name of the mission, included both the first transcontinental flight to average supersonic speed (despite three in-flight re-fuelings during which speeds dropped below 300 mph), and the first continuous transcontinental panoramic photograph of the United States. Glenn received his fifth Distinguished Flying Cross for the mission.

 

NASA

 

Medical debriefing aboard USS Randolph (CVS-15). The debriefing team for Maj. Glenn (center) was led by Cmdr. Seldon C. "Smokey" Dunn, USN MC (far right w/EKG in hands).                         

 

 

In April 1959, despite the fact that Glenn had not earned the required college degree, he was assigned to the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) as one of the original group of Mercury astronauts for the Mercury Project. During this time, he remained an officer in the Marine Corps. He became the fifth person in space and the first American to orbit the Earth, aboard Friendship 7 on February 20, 1962 [6], on the "Mercury Atlas 6" mission, circling the globe three times during a flight lasting 4 hours, 55 minutes, and 23 seconds.  During the mission there was concern that his heat shield had failed and that his craft would burn up on re-entry, but he made his splashdown safely. Glenn was celebrated as a national hero, and received a ticker-tape parade reminiscent of Lindbergh. His fame and political attributes were noted by the Kennedys, and he became a personal friend of the Kennedy family.                    

 

 

In July 1962, Glenn testified before the House Space Committee in favor of excluding women from the NASA astronaut program.  The impact of such testimony, from so prestigious a national hero, is debatable, but no female astronaut flew on a NASA mission until Sally Ride in 1983, and none piloted a mission until Eileen Collins in 1995, more than thirty years after the hearings.                                          

 

Glenn resigned from NASA six weeks after the assassination of President John F. Kennedy to run for office in his home state of Ohio. In 1965, Glenn retired as a Colonel from the USMC and entered the business world as an executive for Royal Crown Cola. He reentered politics later on. Some accounts of Glenn's years at NASA suggest that Glenn was prevented from flying in Gemini or Apollo missions, either by President Kennedy, himself, or by NASA management, on the grounds that the subsequent loss of a national hero of such stature would seriously harm or even end the manned space program. Yet Glenn resigned from the astronaut corps on January 30, 1964, well before even the first Gemini crew was assigned.                  

 

                                                                                                           

Three decades later, after serving 24 years in the Senate, Glenn lifted off for a second space flight on October 29, 1998, on Space Shuttle Discovery's STS-95, in order to study the effects of space flight on the elderly. At age 77, Glenn became the oldest person ever to go into space. Glenn's participation in the nine-day mission was criticized by some in the space community as a junket for a politician. Others noted that Glenn's flight offered valuable research on weightlessness and other aspects of space flight on the same person at two points in life thirty-six years apart — by far the longest interval between space flights by the same person — providing information on the effects of spaceflight and weightlessness on the elderly, with an ideal control. Upon the safe return of the STS-95 crew, Glenn (and his crewmates) received another ticker-tape parade, making him the tenth, and latest person to have received multiple ticker-tape parades in a lifetime (as opposed to that of a sports team).                   

                                                           

 

Glenn vehemently opposed the sending of Dennis Tito, the world's first space tourist, to the International Space Station on the grounds that Tito's trip served no scientific purpose.

                                               

 

The NASA John H. Glenn Research Center at Lewis Field in Cleveland, Ohio is named after him. Also, Senator John Glenn Highway runs along a stretch of I-480 (Ohio) across from the NASA Glenn Research Center. Colonel Glenn Highway, which runs by Wright-Patterson Air Force Base and Wright State University near Dayton, Ohio, and John Glenn High School in his hometown of New Concord, Ohio, and Col. John Glenn Elementary in Seven Hills, Ohio were named for him as well.

 

Life in politics

 

In 1964, John Glenn announced that he was resigning from the space program to run against incumbent Senator Stephen M. Young in the Democratic primary, but he was forced to withdraw when he hit his head on a bathtub. He sustained a concussion and injured his inner ear. Recovery left him unable to campaign at that time.        

                                                                                                           

Glenn remained close to the Kennedy family and was with Sen. Robert F. Kennedy when Kennedy was assassinated.   

                                                                                                           

In 1970, Glenn contested for the Democratic nomination for U.S. Senate; Glenn was defeated in the primary by fellow Democrat Howard Metzenbaum, who went on to lose the general election race to Robert Taft Jr. In the bitterly fought 1974 Democratic primary rematch, Glenn defeated Metzenbaum, who had earlier been appointed by Ohio governor John J. Gilligan to fill out the Senate term of William B. Saxbe, who had resigned to become U.S. attorney general. Metzenbaum was running to retain the seat to which he had been appointed. In the 1974 general election, Glenn defeated Republican Mayor of Cleveland, Ralph Perk, beginning a Senate career that would continue until 1999. Metzenbaum won Ohio's other Senate seat by defeating Taft in 1976. In 1980, Glenn won re-election to the seat, defeating Republican challenger Jim Betts, by over 40 percent(68.8%-28.2%). In 1986, Glenn defeated challenger U.S. Representative Tom Kindness.     

                                                                                                           

Glenn was one of the five U. S. Senators caught up in the Lincoln Savings and Keating Five Scandal after accepting a $200,000 contribution from Charles Keating. Glenn and Republican Senator John McCain were the only Senators exonerated. The Senate Commission found that Glenn had exercised "poor judgment." The association of his name with the scandal gave Republicans hope that he would be vulnerable in the 1992 campaign. Instead, Glenn defeated Lieutenant Governor R. Michael DeWine to keep his seat, though his percentage was reduced to a career low of 51%. This 1992 re-election victory was the last time a Democrat won a statewide race in Ohio until 2006; DeWine later won Metzenbaum's seat upon his retirement.                

                                                                                                                       

In 1998, Glenn declined to run for re-election. The Democratic party chose Mary Boyle to replace him, but she was defeated by then-Ohio Gov. George Voinovich.      

                                               

In 1976, Glenn was a candidate for the Democratic vice presidential nomination. However, Glenn's keynote address at the Democratic National Convention failed to impress the delegates and the nomination went to veteran politician Walter Mondale. Glenn also mounted a bid to be the 1984 Democratic Presidential candidate. Early on, Glenn polled well, coming in a strong second to Mondale. It was also surmised that he would be aided by the almost-simultaneous release of The Right Stuff, a film about the original seven Mercury astronauts in which it was generally agreed that Glenn's character was portrayed (by actor Ed Harris) in an appealing manner. However, Glenn thought it would be bad form to capitalize on this kind of publicity, and didn't make much of these achievements in the period leading up to the Iowa caucuses. Media attention turned to Mondale, Gary Hart, and Jesse Jackson, and by the time his campaign started playing up The Right Stuff for the New Hampshire primary, it was already too late. His failed 1984 presidential bid left Glenn with over $3 million in campaign debt for over 20 years before he was granted a reprieve by the Federal Election Commission.          

                                                                       

On June 21, 2010, Glenn is on record as stating that he questions the United States' plan to retire their fleet of space shuttles and rely on Russia to take U.S. astronauts to the International Space Station.

 

Personal life

 

On April 6, 1943, Glenn married his childhood sweetheart, Anna Margaret Castor. They had met in New Concord and played together in the school band. They are the parents of two children. Both Glenn and his wife attended Muskingum College in New Concord, Ohio.                                                

Glenn is member of the Glenn–Macintosh clan of Scotland. In 1963, Glenn received a letter from a young girl in Sheffield, England, named Anne Glenn. The letter, congratulating him on his orbit around the Earth, enclosed a family tree showing that Anne's father, George Arthur Thomas Glenn, and John Glenn were cousins. The Glenn family is still growing in Scotland to this day.                                                          

Glenn was a member of Demolay International, the Masonic youth organization, and is an ordained elder in the Presbyterian Church.                                                              

 

On August 4, 2006, Glenn and his wife were injured in an automobile accident on I-270 near Columbus, Ohio. They were released from the hospital two days later. Glenn suffered a fractured sternum and a "very sore chest", as he remarked. Annie Glenn was treated for minor injuries. Glenn was cited for failure to yield the right-of-way.       

                                                                                               

On September 5, 2009, John and Annie Glenn dotted the "i" during The Ohio State University's Script Ohio marching band performance, at the Ohio State versus Navy football game halftime show. Bob Hope, Woody Hayes, Buster Douglas, Dr. E. Gordon Gee, Novice Fawcett, Robert Ries and Jack Nicklaus are the only other non-band members to receive this honor.                      

                                                           

On May 23, 2010, Glenn was awarded an honorary Doctoral degree in Public Service during the 2010 Commencement ceremony at Ohio Northern University.

 

 

Walter Brennan recorded a wonderful song commemorating the flight of John Glenn in Friendship 7 in 1962. Click here to watch and listen to it on YouTube.


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