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US astronaut John Glenn remembered

AAP logoAAP 17/12/2016

US astronaut John Glenn has been remembered for setting the course for space travel at a funeral service for the space pioneer and former senator who died last week at the age of 95.

US Vice President Joe Biden honoured Glenn for "defining what it meant to be an American" during the memorial service in Columbus, Ohio.

"We are standing on John Glenn's shoulders as we pursue a human journey to Mars," NASA Administrator Charles Bolden said in a eulogy for the first American to orbit the Earth.

Glenn parlayed his space-flight fame into a political career in which he served four terms in the US Senate and later returned to space as the oldest person ever in orbit.

Chosen in 1959 to be one of the so-called Mercury Seven, Glenn was the last member of the seven original astronauts of the famed Mercury space program to die.

Glenn made his historic orbit around the Earth on February 20, 1962, during the height of the Cold War and as the US and the Soviet Union were racing to become the first to land astronauts on the moon.

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