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John Glenn, 95, passes away 54 years after becoming first American to orbit the Earth

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Famed astronaut John Glenn, most well-known for becoming the first American to orbit the Earth, passed away on Thursday at the age of 95.

Hailed as an American hero, Glenn started his career as a fighter pilot in World War 2 and the Korean War before becoming an astronaut. He also served 24 years in the Senate from Ohio, longer than any other senator in the state’s history.

He returned to flight in 1998 at the age of 77, flying aboard Space Shuttle Discovery and becoming the oldest human to ever visit space.

Glenn passed away at the James Cancer Center at Ohio State University, where he was hospitalized last week after falling ill.

John Glenn

Glenn enters his Friendship 7 capsule on Feb. 20, 1962. (Photo/NASA)

Less than one year later on February 20, 1962, Glenn became the first American to successfully orbit the Earth at the age of 40. He circled the globe three times on his historic voyage before splashing down safely in the Atlantic Ocean.

Glenn would not return to space until 1998 following his long career as a senator.

His second fight into space was much different than the first. In 1962, Glenn only spent around five hours in orbit in the cramped quarters of the Friendship 7 space capsule.

In 1998, Glenn flew aboard Space Shuttle Discovery, spending a total of nine days in orbit. In this time, he and his crewmates orbited the Earth 134 times, significantly longer than his first trip into space.

John Glenn Space Shuttle Discovery

STS-95 mission Commander Curtis Brown (left) and Payload Specialist John Glenn are photographed on the aft flight deck of Discovery during a press conference, Oct. 31, 1998. (Photo/NASA)

"In 2012, President Obama awarded him the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the highest civilian honor the country can bestow, and he also received the Congressional Gold Medal," Bolden said.

“Glenn's extraordinary courage, intellect, patriotism and humanity were the hallmarks of a life of greatness."