American flags around the world will be flying at half-staff for the next few days in memory of John Glenn, the pioneering astronaut and long-serving senator who died Thursday at the age of 95.
The traditional order was given today in a proclamation from President Barack Obama. The half-staff order applies until sunset on the day of Glenn’s interment, the timing of which has not yet been announced.
Glenn made history in 1962 as the first NASA astronaut to circle the planet – as a follow-up to Soviet cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin’s orbital feat a year earlier, plus two U.S. suborbital spaceflights.
That’s not his only claim to fame. In 1957, as a Marine Corps aviator, Glenn broke the transcontinental flight speed record (which has been broken several times since then). In 1974, he became the first spaceflier to get elected to the U.S. Senate. And in 1998, he became the oldest human in space when he flew on the shuttle Discovery at the age of 77.
As news spread of his death in a hospital in Columbus, Ohio, accolades flooded in from all over the world. We passed along lots of Twitter tributes on Thursday, but here are a few more:
— NASA (@NASA) December 9, 2016
Space exploration brings out our best. John Glenn served his country in space, in Congress, and inspired a generation. Onward, John Glenn. pic.twitter.com/KLtzuXn9eP
— Bill Nye (@BillNye) December 8, 2016
He inspired us to reach for the stars, and now we sadly return him to them. Let's honor his hope and dedicate ourselves to the good of all. pic.twitter.com/bz5fqQw05x
— George Takei (@GeorgeTakei) December 8, 2016
Мировая космонавтика понесла тяжелую утрату. Выражаем глубокие соболезнования близким, друзьям и коллегам выдающегося человека Джона Гленна. pic.twitter.com/27RvtXHD67
— РОСКОСМОС (@roscosmos) December 9, 2016
Glenn’s body is to lie in state at the Ohio Statehouse for a day, and a public memorial service will be conducted at Ohio State University. A veteran of World War II and the Korean War, Glenn will be buried at Arlington National Cemetery in Virginia in a private service.
That schedule is similar to the events that unfolded after the death of Apollo 11 moonwalker Neil Armstrong in 2012 (although Armstrong’s remains were buried at sea). We’re likely to see a star-studded turnout of space luminaries at the services.
One big question: Will 86-year-old Buzz Aldrin, who has been recuperating in New Zealand after a South Pole medical scare, make it back to the States in time for the tributes?
RIP and Godspeed John Glenn pic.twitter.com/v87DW3E3Ac
— Buzz Aldrin (@TheRealBuzz) December 10, 2016