CLEVELAND, Ohio -- The Great Lakes Science Center and NASA Glenn Research Center mark the 55th anniversary of John Glenn's harrowing but historic orbital flight aboard Friendship 7 on Monday, Feb. 20.
The 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. event includes special activities, programming and a 1 p.m. presentation with remarks by former astronaut and Cleveland native Dr. Donald Thomas, a crew member on four Space Shuttle missions, and Dr. Marla Perez-Davis, NASA Glenn Research Center deputy director.
Seating for the presentation is limited and will be available on a first-come, first-served basis. The activities, featured program and admission to the NASA Glenn Visitor Center galleries are included with general admission to the Science Center.
Feb. 20, 1962 was the day Glenn orbited Earth three times, moving the United States forward in the space race and nearly forfeiting his life.
Time-Life photo gallery on the life of John Glenn
During re-entry, fiery chunks of the Friendship 7 capsule's retro pack flew past his window, and neither he nor ground control knew if his heat shield was intact. If it was failing, he would die.
Fifty years later, during a 2012 interview at the Ohio State University campus, Glenn nonchalantly referred to this moment as "something we had not planned on."
He survived -- and continued his public service, as one of Ohio's U.S. senators, for 24 years starting in 1974.
Monday's event carries additional import because Glenn passed away in December, at the age of 95.
The celebration of a life well lived on Monday will include Glenn-related artifacts that the science center has on permanent display, as well as temporary exhibits about Glenn and Friendship 7, photo ops with "Eva," the larger-than-life inflatable astronaut, the Lift-Off Big Science Show, maker activities, and displays that tell the story of the real women behind the "Hidden Figures" movie. NASA will also broadcast the 1 p.m. presentation live at ustream.tv/channel/nasa-grc.
Guests can also discover the stories of women currently working at NASA Glenn through a "Modern Figures" panel discussion, and meet Dr. Thomas during a signing for his book, "Orbit of Discovery."
A movie that showcases the next era of space exploration for NASA and its international partners is currently screening at the Science Center in the Cleveland Clinic DOME Theater as well. "Journey to Space," narrated by Patrick Stewart, features extensive interviews with astronauts Chris Ferguson and Serena Aunon, showing how the pioneering Space Shuttle Program laid the groundwork for future missions.
A special Monday holiday screening of "Rogue One: A Star Wars Story" will take place in the DOME Theater at 4 p.m. (separate admission required). Tickets are available online at GreatScience.com, at the Science Center box office, or by phone at 216-621-2400.
10:30 a.m. Science Center members meet and greet with Dr. Thomas
11:15 a.m. Lift-Off Big Science Show
Noon "Journey to Space" screening (additional ticket required)
1 p.m. Main program featuring Dr. Thomas and Dr. Perez-Davis
2 p.m. "Journey to Space" screening (additional ticket required)
2:15 p.m. Lift-Off Big Science Show
2:30 p.m. Dr. Thomas book signing and autograph session
3:30 p.m. Modern Figures Career Panel Discussion
4 p.m. "Rogue One" screening (additional ticket required)
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