The Scene in “The Right Stuff” That Makes You Love John Glenn

John Glenn phone

John Glenn passed away today on December 8, 2016 at the age of 95.  The former NASA astronaut and Senator is one of the few people who could accurately be described as an American hero.

An American Hero

Glenn served his country well in a number of ways.  He left college to join the service after Pearl Harbor, eventually serving in the Navy and then the Marines. He served in the Korean War and later as a test pilot and as an astronaut.

As a Marine Corps pilot, he broke the transcontinental flight speed record.  In 1962, he became the first American to orbit the Earth.  In 1998, at age 77, he became the oldest man in space as part of the crew of the shuttle Discovery.

In politics, Glenn represented Ohio in the U.S. Senate for 25 years.  During that period, he ran for the Democratic presidential nomination and was often considered for a place on the ticket as vice president.

The Right Stuff

But of all his accomplishments, one scene about his life stands out for me.  In the movie The Right Stuff (1983) about the original Mercury 7 astronauts, Ed Harris plays Glenn as a somewhat moralizing goody two shoes, who still comes across as admirable.

One scene in the film centers on events from January 27, 1962 after Glenn’s flight is postponed due to weather conditions.  Vice-President Lyndon Johnson and the press are outside Glenn’s house wanting to talk to Glenn’s wife, Annie.  Annie, upset and not wanting to meet with the press or the vice president, talks to Glenn on the phone.

In the scene, Glenn is aware of the political and media pressure on the space program.  And he is pressured to tell his wife to talk to the vice president.  But instead, he backs his wife “100%.”  The other astronauts also come off well in the scene, putting aside any diffenences to back up Glenn.

The incident and Glenn’s response is a true story, even if a bit stylized with a humorous take on LBJ for the big screen. Johnson and the media were pressuring Annie, and Glenn backed up his wife all the way.

Glenn later explained, “She said she was tired, she had a headache, and she just wasn’t going to allow all those people in her house … I told her whatever she wanted to do, I would back her up 100 percent.”

There would be a few more delays due to a fuel leak and weather problems.  But of course, Glenn did get off the ground on February 20, 1962 in Friendship 7, becoming the first American to orbit the earth. But he was already a hero to those who knew him.

Godspeed John Glenn.

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    Jennifer Lawrence and Chris Pratt Travel Space in “Passengers”

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    The trailer for the upcoming movie Passengers shows Jennifer Lawrence and Chris Pratt using all of their charms in outer space. The film looks like it is sort of a rom-com in space, although I suspect there might be a twist or two.

    In the film, Lawrence and Pratt are on a ship traveling to a distant planet with thousands of others in a sleep state. But something goes wrong, waking Lawrence and Pratt 90 years too soon.

    From the trailer, it is difficult to tell whether the movie features a good science fiction story or whether the makers are banking on the two popular leading actors. Still, it looks like it might be worth taking a chance on seeing the movie. Check out the trailer.

    Passengers is directed by Morten Tyldum based on a screenplay by Jon Spaihts. Passengers hits theaters on December 21, 2016.

    Will you see “Passengers”? Leave your two cents in the comments.

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    Apollo 11 Lands On the Moon

    Aldrin on the Moon (with Armstrong reflected in visor)
    Aldrin on Moon (Armstrong in visor)

    On July 20, 1969, astronauts in the Apollo 11 Mission landed on the moon, and the first humans walked on another world.  People from around the world watched on live television in breathless anticipation of one of humankind’s great accomplishments, which still seems amazing looking back at the level of technology across nearly half a century ago.

    On that date, the Lunar Module Eagle separated from the Command Module Columbia, which was being piloted by Michael Collins.  On board the Eagle were Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin.

    NASA had originally planned for the astronauts to sleep after the Eagle landed.  But with everyone wanting to move forward, Armstrong and Aldrin instead began preparing to walk on the moon.

    After several hours, Armstrong emerged from the hatch.  As he took the first step on the moon, he uttered the famous words: “”That’s one small step for [a] man, one giant leap for mankind.”

    Many listeners did not hear the word “a” that Armstrong meant to say, which affects the meaning of the sentence.  So experts still debate whether or not he said the word.

    About twenty minutes after Armstrong’s first step, Aldrin joined him on the moon.  The two men spent 21 hours, 36 minutes on the moon’s surface before the Eagle ascended to join the Columbia for the trip back to earth.

    This short NASA video features footage that television viewers saw during the landing.  To really appreciate the accomplishment, try to take yourself back to 1969 when the outcome was uncertain. And remember when we recognized that human beings could do some pretty amazing things.

    Where were you when people first walked on the moon? Leave your two cents in the comments. Photo via public domain.

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    The band explains that the video was made using an “airplane that flies parabolic maneuvers to provide brief periods of weightlessness.” The video was shot in one take, although segments were edited out because the longest period of weightlessness on the airplane is around 27 seconds. Check it out.

    For more information on how the video was made, check out the band’s FAQ. “Upside Down & Inside Out” is from the band’s album Hungry Ghosts (2014). The band members of OK Go are Damian Kulash, Tim Nordwind, Dan Konopka, and Andy Ross.

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    International Space Station

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    Check out the video of our home.

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