John Glenn: A Life Of Service
Airs Friday, June 28, 2019 at 6 a.m. & Noon on KPBS 2 + Saturday, June 29 at 2 a.m. on KPBS 2
“John Glenn: A Life Of Service” chronicles the extraordinary life and career of an American legend.
The documentary surveys Glenn's distinguished military, NASA and political careers through archival footage and interviews with lawmakers, journalists, historians and NASA colleagues, including Senators Patrick Leahy (D-VT) and Carl Levin (D-MI) and PBS NEWSHOUR's Mark Shields.
The film captures the pivotal events in John Glenn's life: his humble beginnings in Depression-era Ohio; his life-changing ride-along with a barnstormer; his enlistment following the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor; his 122 combat missions during World War II and the Korean War; his envelope-pushing exploits as a Naval test pilot; and his transition to astronaut during the Cold War.
Thrilling archival footage of NASA lift-offs and transmissions help chronicle Glenn's historic orbits around the Earth on Feb. 20, 1962.
In interviews, Glenn describes the importance of the Mercury-Atlas 6 mission, the risky nature of the launch and Friendship 7's treacherous re-entry five hours later.
As a fitting coda to a life spent dedicated to serving his country, “John Glenn: A Life Of Service” concludes with Glenn's record-setting space flight in 1998 at age 77.
Ben Bays, executive producer for the documentary found the year that he was involved in development and production to be one of the most gratifying of his career.
"Sitting down and talking with Senator Glenn was certainly the highlight,” said Bays. “He could deftly transition from a thousand-foot view of the current political system, to the nuts and bolts of how an Atlas rocket functioned. You could see at once both the Senator and the scientist co-existing and informing his philosophy."