2000 33¢ Return to Space
Celebrate the Century – 1990s
Issue Date: May 2, 2000
City: Monterey, CA
Printed By: Ashton-Potter (USA) Ltd
Printing Method: Lithographed
Perforations: 11 ½
Thirty-six years after he blasted into the skies aboard Friendship 7, John Glenn returned to space on October 29, 1998. Glenn, then 77, spent nine days on the shuttle Discovery. A member of the Senate Special Committee on Aging, Glenn hoped his journey would help researchers learn more about the effects of aging.
On February 20, 1962, Glenn became the first American to orbit the Earth. He circled the planet three times in four hours and 55 minutes. Glenn was also the first person to carry a camera into space. He recorded striking images of the Earth, sunrises, and sunsets.
While reading a book on space physiology, the idea occurred to Glenn that a study examining the effects of weightlessness on older people could be beneficial. NASA officials weren’t convinced, and neither was Glenn’s wife, Annie. But after being found in good health, Glenn began preparing for the journey.
Glenn’s heart and respiration rates, blood volume, and blood pressure were monitored regularly throughout the flight. Scientists analyzed the results, especially his immune system function and protein levels. Glenn’s sleep cycles were also measured and compared to readings that were taken before liftoff. He was given another battery of tests when he returned home.