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Gala celebrates Glenn’s 50th flight anniversary

Courtesy of OSU

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Two historic space flights, 24 years in the Senate, 24 years as a Marine and 14 years at Ohio State. It’s a lot to cover in one life. It’s even more to cover in one night, but the Celebrating John Glenn gala will honor all of the titular astronaut and former senator’s legacy Monday.

“Each one of these areas, I remember things very vividly I’m very proud of in each one of those areas,” Glenn told The Lantern. “But it’s difficult to compare them and say one’s more important than the others”

The date is no mistake, and marks the 50th anniversary of Glenn’s most historic day. Glenn became the first American to orbit the Earth aboard the Friendship 7 spacecraft Feb. 20, 1962. His less than five hours in space began a half century of space travel and study for NASA. Fifty years later, OSU celebrates Glenn’s storied life.

“It’s an opportunity to honor him and support his legacy at the John Glenn School,” said Shelly Hoffman, spokesperson for OSU.

The event will take place in the Archie M. Griffin Grand Ballroom at the Ohio Union and proceeds will benefit the John Glenn School of Public Affairs and the College of Engineering. Entry to the event starts at $1,000 for a single ticket and goes up to $500,000 for a private dinner with Glenn and his wife.

The school hopes to raise more than $2 million from the event, Hoffman said.

Keynoting the event is Capt. Mark Kelly, commander of the space shuttle Endeavour’s final mission. Endeavour was the fifth and final NASA space shuttle built. Though he might not be keynoting, Glenn won’t miss out on the event. He and his wife will host a question-and-answer session with the audience.

“Having this occur while you’re still here is pretty cool,” said Andrew Charlton, a graduate student in public affairs and leader of the John Glenn School of Public Affairs Student Association.

Hoffman said more than 600 people are attending the event.

While students might not be able to afford a ticket to the event, it’s not the only way to be involved with the Glenn celebration.

The Ohio Union US Bank Conference Theater will host the NASA Future Forum 2 p.m. Monday. Panelists at the forum will discuss Glenn’s past and NASA’s future. Glenn himself will be a panel member.

“I didn’t want to be a panel member at all,” Glenn said. “But I think I’ll be a panel member on one.”

The panel will be broadcast live on NASA’s website.

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