Today pioneering astronaut John Glenn is the first to celebrate a remarkable anniversary: half a century since his first space flight. A full 50 years ago on February 20 1962 Glenn went into orbit around the Earth –the first American to do so – aboard Friendship 7.
Glenn, who went on to become a Democratic Senator, has preserved his health and activity well over the years.
He holds the record for being the oldest man to go into space, leaving the Earth behind him once more aboard space shuttle Discovery at age 77, Glenn has just recently given up flying his plane, the Beechcraft Baron at the age of 90.
Glenn’s first flight clawed America back into the space race, following Russia’s early dominance courtesy of Gagarin and others. His memorabilia remains coveted – for example a set of astronaut test gloves worn by Glenn and also his fellow Mercury 7 astronaut Wally Schirra were sold for $7,170 in 2008.
Glenn has said that he is envious of only thing, or perhaps one person: he’d have liked to set foot on the moon, say as part of Apollo 11. Of course it was he fellow Ohio resident and friend Neil Armstrong who managed that originally.
Collectors are of course strongly interested in Apollo 11 memorabilia. We recently sold a set of Apollo 11 autographs – all three of Michael Collins, Buzz Aldrin and the elusive Neil Armstrong’s on a photograph of Aldrin’s lunar bootprint, but for the moment we still have the trio as a set of separate signed photographs available.