The Right Stuff, 36 Years Later

John Glenn is headed back to space in a mission that is equal parts science and showmanship

Astronaut John Glenn used to dread going to NASA's Lewis Research Center in Cleveland, Ohio. As a rookie pilot in the space agency's Mercury program, the 40-year-old Marine would periodically be required to strap himself into the tiny pod of a spacecraft simulator and wait for technicians to set it spinning in three dimensions at speeds exceeding 30 r.p.m. Using nothing more than a joystick, Glenn would have to bring the tumbling cockpit to heel. If he succeeded, he would continue in the program. If he failed, he could be bilged.

Senator John Glenn, 76, learned last week that he'd soon...

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