This Day in Tech History

On This Day . . .

HDTV & John Glenn’s Return to Space

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October 29, 1998:  John Glenn Returns to Space

Nearly four decades after he became the first American to orbit the Earth, Senator John Hershel Glenn, Jr., is launched into space again as a payload specialist aboard the space shuttle Discovery. At 77 years of age, Glenn was the oldest human ever to travel in space. During the nine-day mission, he served as part of a NASA study on health problems associated with aging.

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Glenn, a lieutenant colonel in the U.S. Marine Corps, was among the seven men chosen by NASA in 1959 to become

Glenn (foreground) flew F4Us in the Far East. "I've never seen a better flyer," said a fellow pilot. "He could fly alongside you and tap a wingtip gently against yours."

Glenn (foreground) flew F4Us in the Far East. “I’ve never seen a better flyer,” said a fellow pilot. “He could fly alongside you and tap a wingtip gently against yours.”

America’s first astronauts. A decorated pilot, he had flown nearly 150 combat missions during World War II and the Korean War. In 1957, he made the first nonstop supersonic flight across the United States, flying from Los Angeles to New York in three hours and 23 minutes.

On February 20, 1962, Colonel John Glenn’s spacecraft, Friendship 7, made three orbits of the Earth in five hours. Glenn was hailed as a national hero, and on February 23 President John F. Kennedy visited him at Cape Canaveral. Glenn was given a ticker-tape parade in New York City.

Astronaut John Glenn relaxes aboard the USS Noa after being recovered from the Atlantic near Grand Turk Island after his historic Mercury flight

Astronaut John Glenn relaxes aboard the USS Noa after being recovered from the Atlantic near Grand Turk Island after his historic Mercury flight

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In 1974 he won the general election for the Ohio Senate, and went on to win reelection three times. In 1984, he unsuccessfully sought the Democratic nomination for president.

In 1998, Glenn attracted considerable media attention when he returned to space aboard the space shuttle Discovery. In 1999, he retired from his U.S. Senate seat after four consecutive terms in office, a record for the state of Ohio.

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HDTV Introduced

HDTV technology was introduced in the United States in the 1990s by the Digital HDTV Grand Alliance, a group of television, electronic equipment, communications companies consisting of AT&T Bell Labs, General Instrument, Philips, Sarnoff, Thomson, Zenith and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

The American Advanced Television Systems Committee (ATSC) HDTV system had its public launch on October 29, 1998, during the live coverage of astronaut John Glenn’s return mission to space on board the Space Shuttle Discovery. The signal was transmitted coast-to-coast, and was seen by the public in science centers, and other public theaters specially equipped to receive and display the broadcast.

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One thought on “HDTV & John Glenn’s Return to Space

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