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Astronaut and US Senator John Glenn has died at 95

John Glenn, the first American to orbit the Earth and former U.S. senator, has died, according to Ohio State University.

"The Ohio State University community deeply mourns the loss of John Glenn, Ohio's consummate public servant and a true American hero. He leaves an undiminished legacy as one of the great people of our time," Michael Drake, president of Ohio State University, said in a statement.

Drake described Glenn as a "decorated U.S. Marine aviator, legendary NASA astronaut, tireless public servant, and an unparalleled supporter of The John Glenn College of Public Affairs at Ohio State, where he served actively as an adjunct professor until just recently."

The 95-year-old former Marine had been hospitalized more than a week ago, a spokesman for the John Glenn College of Public Affairs said in a statement to NBC News. Glenn suffered a stroke two years ago after having heart valve replacement surgery, but it was not clear what caused him to be taken to the James Cancer Hospital at Ohio State.


Astronaut John Glenn, Jr. is loaded into the Friendship 7 capsule in preparation for flight on the Mercury Titan rocket February 20, 1962.
Nasa | Getty Images
Astronaut John Glenn, Jr. is loaded into the Friendship 7 capsule in preparation for flight on the Mercury Titan rocket February 20, 1962.

Glenn is primarily famous for his 1962 ride in the Friendship 7 space capsule that circled the Earth, making him the first American to do so. That accomplishment put the United States on equal footing with Russia in the space race.

The Ohioan was elected to the Senate in 1974 and served for more than two decades. Glenn was also a decorated Marine Corps fighter pilot in World War II and the Korean War.

In a 2009 New York Times op-ed, author Tom Wolfe called Glen the "last true national hero America has ever had."

American politician and former astronaut Senator John Glenn as he smiles at Birmingham Municipal Airport, Birmingham, Alabama, March 14, 1984
Robert R. McElroy | Getty Images
American politician and former astronaut Senator John Glenn as he smiles at Birmingham Municipal Airport, Birmingham, Alabama, March 14, 1984

When he was 77, Glenn returned to space on the Discovery shuttle. That trip made him the oldest person to make such a voyage.

In 2011, Glenn received the Congressional Gold Medal, America's highest civilian honor.

Ohio Gov. John Kasich said in a statement, "John Glenn is, and always will be, Ohio's ultimate hometown hero, and his passing today is an occasion for all of us to grieve."

President Barack Obama said in a statement, "With John's passing, our nation has lost an icon and Michelle and I have lost a friend."

"John always had the right stuff, inspiring generations of scientists, engineers and astronauts who will take us to Mars and beyond — not just to visit, but to stay. Today, the people of Ohio remember a devoted public servant who represented his fellow Buckeyes in the U.S. Senate for a quarter century and who fought to keep America a leader in science and technology," the president said.

He gave his condolences to Glenn's wife, Annie, children and family.

"The last of America's first astronauts has left us, but propelled by their example we know that our future here on Earth compels us to keep reaching for the heavens. On behalf of a grateful nation, Godspeed, John Glenn," Obama said.

President-elect Donald Trump tweeted,"Today we lost a great pioneer of air and space in John Glenn."

The science community mourned the loss of Glenn on Twitter.

This story is developing. Please check back for further updates.

— NBC News' Jon Schuppe contributed to this report.