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Ohio State celebrates legacy of John Glenn on 50th anniversary of his Friendship 7 space flight

The Ohio State University will lead the celebration of John Glenn’s legacy on the 50th anniversary of his historic flight aboard Friendship 7 on February 20 by engaging students, NASA officials and the public policy community. When Glenn piloted Friendship 7 into space in 1962 and became the first American to orbit the earth, he became an instant hero as the flight captured the nation and the world’s imagination.
Through this tribute, the university will celebrate the historic moment in time and honor one of America’s great heroes – John Glenn – and the culture of leadership, citizenship and public service that he has instilled at Ohio State and the John Glenn School of Public Affairs.

The major university event will be a celebration dinner featuring a keynote speech by NASA astronaut Mark Kelly, commander of the space shuttle Endeavour's final mission. Proceeds from the dinner will primarily benefit the John Glenn School of Public Affairs and the College of Engineering, and the university is hoping to raise more than $2 million toward student scholarships in those areas.

From that first flight, NASA put astronauts on the moon, built spacecraft that could take off and land, built a working laboratory into space and more. The flight spotlighted the partnership between public policy and scientific and technological research that thrust the United States into a position of technological superiority. It also launched new industries that continue to provide the nation and world with life-enhancing innovations.

After the flight, Glenn went on to serve 24 years as a U.S. Senator representing Ohio. As he neared the end of his Senate career, Glenn donated his papers, including memorabilia from the space flight, to the university, which are now available through the John Glenn Collection. Weeks before his historic return to space in 1998, he returned to Ohio State and announced the creation of the John Glenn Institute, which is now the John Glenn School of Public Affairs.

Ohio State President E. Gordon Gee says, “John Glenn is, quite simply, an extraordinary American patriot. He is a man of boundless courage, limitless optimism and unswerving honor. I am deeply grateful for this opportunity to celebrate his tremendous achievements and his important leadership at Ohio State. He is one of this University’s – and this nation’s – greatest treasures.”

The university's celebration will include many special events:

*A major exhibit on the Friendship 7 space flight takes place from Feb. 1 to April 30 at the Thompson (main) Library, 1858 Neil Ave. “Friendship 7 at 50: An Anniversary Celebration of John Glenn’s Historic Space Flight” uses includes manuscripts, photographs and artifacts from the John Glenn Collection to describe Glenn’s selection and training as one of the original seven Mercury astronauts, his Friendship 7 space mission, and the public acclaim following his return to Earth.
The exhibit includes a gallery talk at 4 p.m. on Feb. 16. Contact: Jeff Thomas, (614) 688-8429 or Thomas.1082@osu.edu. See: www.go.osu.edu/oca.

*A celebration dinner at 7 p.m. on Feb. 20 at the Archie Griffin Ballroom in the Ohio Union, 1739 N. High St. Proceeds from the dinner will benefit faculty, students and programs related to science and technology research and policy at the John Glenn School of Public Affairs and the College of Engineering. The keynote speaker is NASA astronaut Mark Kelly, commander of the space shuttle Endeavour’s final mission. Tickets can be purchased by contacting customerservice@ohiostatealumni.org or online by going to https://eweb.ohiostatealumni.org/eWeb/DynamicPage.aspx?Site=aime&Webcode=OEES.
For questions, please contact The Ohio State University Alumni Association at (800) 762-5646.

*The NASA Future Forum, Feb. 20-21 at the U.S. Bank Conference Theater in the Ohio Union. NASA leadership, technologists, scientists, and engineers along with local business, science, technology, and education leaders will discuss the future role of NASA in further advancing innovation, technology, science, engineering, education and the economy that benefits the community and nation.
The program will feature panel discussions on Innovation, Discovery, National Benefits, and Education, and will feature key speakers including Senator Glenn, Ohio State President E. Gordon Gee and NASA Administrator Charles Bolden.
Seating is limited and registration is required to ensure a seat at http://events.signup4.com/futureforum_osu or http://www.nasa.gov/oct.

* The Future of Space Exploration: A Faculty Panel – 7:30 p.m. on Feb. 15, 130 Page Hall, 1810 College Rd. Space travel is very different today than it was 50 years ago when John Glenn first orbited the Earth. Distinguished Ohio State faculty will discuss the state of space travel today and what’s next for NASA and the future of space exploration.

Throughout the preceding week, the campus will mark the anniversary with military-style fitness challenges, an academic lecture, a space trivia contest, a service project with Muskingum University, rides on campus busses as they “orbit” campus and free “Orbit” gum.
The entire schedule of events planned to honor Glenn and celebrate the flight is available at www.osu.edu/johnglenn.