A Star Treks Again John Glenn's Return to Space Evokes a Time of American Derring- Do and the Age of Possibility Series: Part One of Two

By Scott Baldauf, writer of The Christian Science Monitor | The Christian Science Monitor, October 28, 1998 | Go to article overview

A Star Treks Again John Glenn's Return to Space Evokes a Time of American Derring- Do and the Age of Possibility Series: Part One of Two


Scott Baldauf, writer of The Christian Science Monitor, The Christian Science Monitor


To some, John Glenn comes close to a mythical Iron Man, a septuagenarian who follows a regimen of weightlifting and two-mile powerwalks in preparation for the scheduled launch of the space shuttle Oct. 29. At press conferences, he is a polite Everyman, deflecting gee-whiz questions with aw-shucks banter. To his generation of astronauts, he is the envy of the corps, a man who gets to don a marshmallow suit for one last ride around the heavens.

When John Glenn returns to space on the shuttle Discovery, it will be more than a sentimental journey. It will be a way to boost the image of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) and lift the spirits of a nation. It will be a reminder of the days when the space program - and Glenn himself - epitomized the American buckaroo spirit. Perhaps more than anything, it will mark a rendezvous with a time when American confidence - even if driven by competition with the Soviet Union - was approaching its zenith.

"Glenn puts us back to the early 1960s, when the American century was at its height," says Kevin Starr, a California historian. "During World War II, we had many great commanders - Patton and Bradley and Admiral Nimitz - but we only had one Dwight Eisenhower. Glenn is in a direct line with Eisenhower. He represents that broad healing center of the nation." For space enthusiasts, this healing has been a long time in coming. Interest in America's shuttle missions has fallen away as they have become more routine. Today's astronauts may be just as skilled as their more famous predecessors, but they perform their work in near anonymity. They are virtually unknown to America's schoolchildren. Few TV networks even bother to broadcast shuttle liftoffs: "The Hughleys" gets more attention. What NASA needs now, some advocates argue, is a touch of the Mercury glamour, a reminder that space remains our final frontier. "It clearly seems to tell us that Americans love heroes and ... that there is a public undercurrent of being in love with the space program," says Pat Dash, head of the National Space Society, a Washington-based group that promotes the space program. "If public enthusiasm for Glenn's flight reflects an enthusiasm for human exploration of space, then this mission will be significant." For NASA, it's a Faustian bargain to use personalities to promote the space program, but for Glenn's fellow astronauts, it's a bargain worth accepting. "The folks back in the early '60s that risked their lives to prove that we could get to orbit, I think they deserve the hero status more than we do," said Curt Brown, Discovery commander, during a recent press conference at Johnson Space Center in Houston. "We take it for granted that we can get in a shuttle and get to orbit and do the science." At this point, Glenn took it upon himself to clear the air about the whole "hero thing." "It's up to you who gets the attention," said Glenn somewhat sternly to reporters. "I just wish that every flight got the kind of attention that we used to get on every flight back in Mercury days when there were ticker tape parades." "As for the hero thing," he added, "leave that to other people. I think that term gets bandied about pretty loosely." But for Jake Garn, a retired Republican senator from Utah, there's no question that John Glenn has earned the term. "He's one of my heroes," says Senator Garn, himself a former Navy fighter pilot. "Do you realize what it took to be one of the first Mercury astronauts?" Can I go up? Like other former astronauts, including Edwin "Buzz" Aldrin, Story Mosgrove, and James Lovell, Garn has made it clear that he would love to be in Glenn's pressurized suit. It's an envy that every astronaut feels before a launch. It's an envy that John Glenn himself has felt for 36 years. Garn remembers the standing ovation he received in the well of the US Senate in 1985 after returning from his first, and last, shuttle mission as a senator-astronaut. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

A Star Treks Again John Glenn's Return to Space Evokes a Time of American Derring- Do and the Age of Possibility Series: Part One of Two
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.