This evening, as a part of the 2016 Smithsonian Magazine American Ingenuity Awards, astronaut Mae Jemison read a letter written by her fellow space traveler Senator John Glenn, who died earlier today at 95 years old. Glenn was the first American to orbit the Earth when he flew on Friendship 7 on February 20, 1962. “He was a great American hero, there’s no doubt about it,” said curator Michael Neufeld of the Smithsonian's National Air and Space Museum. “He wanted a bold new space program to continue, to go outwards to Mars and the moon.”
The letter, reprinted below, congratulates Jeff Bezos on receiving this year's Technology award for the breakthroughs in reusable rocket technology made by his Blue Origin company. Bezos had previously announced that he would be naming the next-generation of his spacecraft "New Glenn," after one of his heroes.
In his letter, Glenn writes, "As the original Glenn, I can tell you I see the day coming when people will board spacecraft the same way millions of us now board jetliners. When that happens, it will be largely because of your achievements this year."
The letter was then framed and given to Bezos as he accepted his award.