Glenn has a busy day's work in space

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The Independent Online
JOHN GLENN awoke yesterday for his first full day back in space to the gravelly voice of Louis Armstrong singing "What A Wonderful World." History's oldest space traveller then charged into a busy round of science experiments.

Glenn and his six crewmates were awakened by a recording of "Satchmo" singing about "skies of blue, clouds of white". "Good morning, Discovery," said Mission Control. "Welcome to a second day in space."

"Thanks, Houston, it's good to be here," a voice from Discovery responded. The crew includes the first Spaniard in space, Pedro Duque, and Chiaki Mukai of Japan. Before they went to bed on Thursday, Glenn radioed down that he was enjoying the view from 340 miles above Earth.

Glenn yesterday began the blood collection and temperature recording parts of his primary job in orbit: studying the effects of weightlessness on the human body. The senator is a guinea pig for research comparing the effects of space flight with the changes that occur from aging on Earth.

He's participating in 10 ageing experiments. His work began before he went to sleep, when he swallowed a capsule to measure his body temperature overnight as part of a sleep study. Also yesterday, Glenn was to help his crewmates deploy a small Navy communications satellite.

Amid all the work, the astronauts paused long enough to search for the lights of Perth, on Australia's western coast, in the city's repeat of its salute to Glenn 36 years ago, when it turned on every light in town. The astronauts photographed the city from orbitand Glenn promised to send city officials a copy.

They had Perth in view for five minutes.

Glenn blasted off on Thursday from Cape Canaveral with six crewmates aboard Discovery. Now 77 years old, on 20 February 1962 he became the first American to orbit Earth.

Millions of people watched Glenn rocket back into the history books, including President Bill Clinton. Clinton became the first president to witness a space launch since November 1969, when Richard Nixon watched the lift-off of Apollo 12.

Once in orbit, shuttle commander Curtis Brown junior reported that a thermal blanket that provides insulation to the shuttle's orbital manoeuvering system appeared to come loose. While not considered a significant issue, the crew are planning to use a mechanical arm to take a closer look at the loose panel.

The crew also noted a leak in a new water system that removes iodine from the shuttle's drinking water. Flight controllers instructed the crew to use a proven, older system.

Glenn did not seem to mind the problems once he was unstrapped from his launch seat and floated freely about the spacecraft, something he did not get to do during his first flight. (AP)

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