These photos captured the defining moments of decorated astronaut John Glenn’s life and career

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In this handout photo provided by NASA, U.S. Astronaut John H. Glenn Jr. wears a silver Mercury pressure suit in preparation for launch February 20, 1962.
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NASA via Getty Images

John Glenn, the first American to orbit the earth and the fifth person to go to space, died at age 95 on Thursday.

Glenn had been hospitalized for more than a week prior to his death, according to the Columbus Dispatch.

Glenn achieved a number of extraordinary feats throughout his life and career, including flying 149 combat missions in World War II and the Korean War; spending a total of 218 hours in space; becoming a United States senator (D-OH); authoring the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Act of 1978 to fight the rise of nuclear weapons; and being awarded the Medal of Freedom, the nation’s highest civilian honor, among many other things.

The photos below captured Glenn during some of the defining moments of his life and US history.


John Glenn gets a congratulatory kiss from his wife Annie following a Pentagon ceremony honoring him for his record-breaking transcontinental flight. Glenn spanned the United States in 3 hours, 23 minutes and 8.1 seconds in an PSU-1 jet. He was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross for the feat.


Three of the seven Mercury astronauts training for the first flight into space pose together at the National Aeronautics and Space Administration Research Center at Langley Field, Va., Jan. 11, 1961. From Left to right are Navy Cmdr. Alan B. Shepard, Jr., Glenn, and Navy Lt. Cmdr. Scott Carpenter.


Glenn dons his silver Mercury pressure suit in preparation for launch on Feb. 20, 1962. Glenn orbited the earth three times during his first trip into space on a mission that lasted nearly 5 hours.


Glenn is shown in a light moment aboard the carrier Randolph to which he was taken after his around-the-world trip in outer space. He wears bandages on the knuckles of his right hand because they were scratched while getting out of the space capsule. Glenn and the capsule were picked up in the Atlantic by the Destroyer Noa some 700 miles southeast of Cape Canaveral launching site.


Glenn gives a thumbs up sign as he and President John Kennedy are welcomed to the missile test center at Cape Canaveral, Florida on Feb. 23, 1962. President Kennedy was escorting Glenn in a parade during which he awarded Glenn the NASA Distinguished Service Medal.


Glenn and his wife Annie look over his first campaign sign in his race to win the Democratic nomination for U.S. senator from Ohio, in Columbus, Jan. 21, 1964. Glenn eventually withdrew from the race after hitting his head on a bathtub. He ran again in 1974 and was elected senator from Ohio, serving for 25 years.


Glenn waves to the crowd on Thursday, April 21, 1983 after a reception at Muskingum College in New Concord, Ohio, his hometown. Glenn announced his candidacy for the Democratic presidential nomination earlier in the day. Glenn was unsuccessful in his bid for the presidency both times he ran, in 1984 and 1988.


Glenn waves as he leaves the Operations and Checkout Building Thursday morning Oct. 29, 1998 at Kennedy Space Center. Glenn was on his way to Launch Pad 39-B and a planned liftoff on the Space Shuttle Discovery. He was still senator of Ohio at the time.


The crew of space shuttle Discovery mission STS-95, including John Glenn. On this flight, at age 77, Glenn became the oldest person to fly in space.

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The crew of space shuttle Discovery mission STS-95, including John Glenn. On this flight, Glenn became the oldest person to fly in space.
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NASA

Glenn, center, poses with then-Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and then-Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell on Capitol Hill in Washington in 2011, during a ceremony where Glenn received a Congressional Gold Medal.


Glenn and Apollo 11 Astronaut Neil Armstrong are seen prior to the start of a dinner at Ohio State University that honored the 50th anniversary of John Glenn’s historic flight aboard Friendship 7 Monday, Feb. 20, 2012, in Columbus, Ohio.

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Sen. John Glenn, left, and Apollo 11 Astronaut Neil Armstrong are seen prior to the start of a dinner at Ohio State University that honored the 50th anniversary of John Glenn’s historic flight aboard Friendship 7 Monday, Feb. 20, 2012, in Columbus, Ohio.
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NASA

President Barack Obama awards the Medal of Freedom to astronaut John Glenn during a ceremony in the East Room of the White House in Washington, Tuesday, May 29, 2012.