The Senator Who Fell to Earth

  • Share
  • Read Later
Now that John Glenn is safely back on terra firma, he and the rest of the Discovery crew are doing the best they can to maintain Americaís renewed interest in the space program. "I wish that every flight received this same kind of attention," the 77-year-old senator and payload specialist told a press conference Sunday. His commander, Curtis Brown Jr., also used the occasion to give some desperate plugs to upcoming NASA missions -Ė specifically a more unpopular and expensive one. Discoveryís landing, Brown urged, should be seen as "the first chapter in a new adventure: the International Space Station."

Fat chance of that. Right now, itís still all Glenn, all the time down in Houston. More than a thousand residents packed an airport hangar to cheer the two-time astronautís return Saturday; on Wednesday, the city will throw a parade in his honor. And youíd be hard-pressed to find a reporter with space stations on his mind at the Discovery press conference. How did Senator Glenn feel? "Ninety-five or 98 percent back to normal," he said. Does he have a message for the elder generation? "Donít sit on a couch someplace, thatís my attitude." Will he return to space yet again? Only if his wife, Annie, lets him, said the senator, and only if there were "some rising demand." Considering the trouble NASA is having getting the ISS off the ground, administrator Dan Goldin would no doubt love to stick Glenn in permanent orbit.