Editor's note: John Glenn, who died earlier today at age 95, became the first American to orbit the Earth, in a 1962 flight aboard NASA's Friendship 7 capsule. The former World War II fighter pilot orbited the Earth three times. He later served as a US senator for Ohio for 24 years. Glenn was the last survivor of the original Mercury 7 astronauts. - Tom
Ohio State University President Michael V. Drake on death of John Glenn: 'Senator Glenn was a decorated U.S. Marine aviator, legendary NASA astronaut, tireless public servant, and an unparalleled supporter of The John Glenn College of Public Affairs at Ohio State, where he served actively as an adjunct professor until just recently. He was an authentic hero whose courage, integrity, sacrifice and achievements inspired people, young and old, around the world'
The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) is an independent agency of the executive branch of the United States federal government responsible for the civilian space program as well as aeronautics and aerospace research.
President Dwight D. Eisenhower established NASA in 1958 with a distinctly civilian (rather than military) orientation encouraging peaceful applications in space science. The National Aeronautics and Space Act was passed on July 29, 1958, disestablishing NASA's predecessor, the National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics (NACA). The new agency became operational on October 1, 1958.
Since that time, most US space exploration efforts have been led by NASA, including the Apollo moon-landing missions, the Skylab space station, and later the Space Shuttle. Currently, NASA is supporting the International Space Station and is overseeing the development of the Orion Multi-Purpose Crew Vehicle, the Space Launch System and Commercial Crew vehicles. The agency is also responsible for the Launch Services Program (LSP) which provides oversight of launch operations and countdown management for unmanned NASA launches.
NASA science is focused on better understanding Earth through the Earth Observing System, advancing heliophysics through the efforts of the Science Mission Directorate's Heliophysics Research Program, exploring bodies throughout the Solar System with advanced robotic spacecraft missions such as New Horizons, and researching astrophysics topics, such as the Big Bang, through the Great Observatories and associated programs. NASA shares data with various national and international organizations such as from the Greenhouse Gases Observing Satellite.