LeTourneau professor remembers John Glenn - KLTV.com - Tyler, Longview, Jacksonville |ETX News

LeTourneau professor remembers John Glenn

(Source: KLTV News Staff) (Source: KLTV News Staff)

The death of American space icon John Glenn is an important remembrance for one East Texas college professor who was also a part of the manned
space program, and was encouraged by the NASA legend.

Glenn's historic 1962 flight inspired millions of children to follow their dreams of becoming an astronaut. News of national hero and former U.S. Sen. John Glenn's passing is close to Letourneau University Professor Dr. Byron Lichtenberg's heart.

Lichtenberg himself is a two-time shuttle astronaut.

"Very sad. He was definitely an icon, someone that many of us looked up to in the space shuttle program or the space program. John Glenn was a hero
before he went into space, a combat veteran of two wars, a fighter pilot," Lichtenberg says.

Byron met, and was encouraged by, Glenn during his training period.

"He was very accepting, very open. Didn't have a big ego about being the first American in space," he says.

Lichtenberg says Glenn’s achievement was priceless to the then fledgling NASA program.

"About half of the rockets blew up that they were testing that he ended up flying on, so it was very hazardous. He was obviously a trailblazer. Clearly
he rose to the occasion, he became that icon being that public figure," the professor says.

Byron was among millions of boys during the 60s who dreamed of one day following Glenn’s footsteps.

"He really made a difference in my life because I was 14 years old when he took off and flew around the earth and I said, 'I want to be an astronaut.'
I flew on two space shuttle missions. I flew back in 1983. I was blessed fly back in March of 92," Lichtenberg says.

And the professor says Glenn’s life is proof that if you can dream it, you can do it.

"Without having that, without that demonstration of putting someone in orbit and bring them back, the space program could still be spinning our
wheels," Byron says.

And Glenn’s achievement leads to bigger dreams.

"Now we're setting our sights on Mars," says the professor.

John Glenn was 95.

Professor Lichtenberg says Glenn's service to his country as a marine pilot, astronaut and Ohio senator may never be surpassed. 

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