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Video: John Glenn Speaks at Discovery's Arrival

"We must count ourselves among the most fortunate people of all times," famed astronaut tells thousands who came to see the space shuttle.

John Glenn, the first American to orbit the Earth and who at age 77 was the oldest person ever to go up into space, spoke at Space Shuttle Discovery's arrival ceremony at the Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center on Thursday.
John Glenn, the first American to orbit the Earth and who at age 77 was the oldest person ever to go up into space, spoke at Space Shuttle Discovery's arrival ceremony at the Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center on Thursday.

Astronaut John Glenn addressed thousands of people at a ceremony to welcome the space shuttle Discovery to the Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center in Chantilly on Thursday.

In his speech, Glenn, the first American to orbit the Earth and who at age 77 was the oldest person ever to go up into space, said that Discovery's retirement was premature. Yet Glenn, who was also the third American to travel to space, believes there's still a hopeful future for NASA's last shuttle.

"Today, Discovery takes on a new vision. Less dynamic, perhaps, but nonetheless important. It will be on display not only as a testament to the events of our time, but also as an inspiration to future generations," Glenn said. "It will be a symbol for our nation of space flight that presents optimism and hope and challenges and leadership and aspirations to explore and to excel. And that's a big mission its own right."

Related coverage:

Welcome Discovery Festival Events

Photos: Discovery Over Virginia

Photos: Space Shuttle Discovery Transfer Ceremony

Note: This article was published on April 20, 2012.

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