For space-nuts of a certain age…

Monday is the 50th anniversary of John Glenn’s historic three-orbit space ride. That means it was probably fifty years ago tonight that I started worrying about him. I tossed and turned in bed, visions of catastrophe filling my eight year-old head: What if he can’t get back down? Could they send another rocket up to get him? How long would his food and water and oxygen last? Visions of poor John Glenn endlessly circling the earth, waiting to die, kept me wide awake.

He made it back, of course. We cheered in class when we heard he’d splashed down. Sister Margaret Jeanette even cried–a shocking sight for a room full of second-graders, since none of us knew nuns could cry. I slept like a baby that night.

Happy anniversary to John Glenn (and the rest of us astro-nuts).


Filed under etc., Science, Things I learned en route to looking up other things

2 responses to “For space-nuts of a certain age…

  1. Carleen Gordon Trevino

    Dear Dr. Sloan,
    WOW! This is the 2nd time I’ve responded to your blog! The only 2 times in my life that I’ve ever responded to a blog! The 1st time was to “fuss” about your thinly veiled political commentary re: watered down formula and the GOP, but now I celebrate with you because I too was an anxious 8-year-old wondering how John Glenn was going to make it. (My father was selected in the 3rd group of astronauts, flying on Gemini 11 and Apollo 12, and I am very happy to say that he made it back too! 🙂 ) Sincerely, Carleen Gordon Trevino


    • Hi Carleen,
      Your dad is Richard Gordon? That’s great – I remember the Apollo 12 mission and actually thinking about him, wondering whether the guy left orbiting the moon while his comrades-in-flight roamed the surface felt a little cheated by it all. Did he? And that must have been a terrifying experience for you and your family. How did you pass the time during the flight?

      Please pass along my regards to your father – he had an incredibly accomplished career.
      Take care,


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