John Glenn’s home state and the nation began saying goodbye to the beloved astronaut Friday beginning with a public viewing of his flag-draped casket inside Ohio’s Statehouse rotunda. (Dec. 16)

AP

COLUMBUS, Ohio — Hundreds are expected to pay their respects to astronaut and former U.S. Sen. John Glenn on Friday, when his body lies in state at the Ohio Statehouse in Columbus, Ohio.

An American flag is draped over Glenn’s casket inside the Statehouse rotunda and was flanked by two members of a United States Marine honor guard before the public arrived. His body will lie in state until 8 p.m.

Glenn, who died Dec. 8 at the age of 95, flew 149 combat missions as a Marine pilot in World War II and the Korean War, then became the first American astronaut to orbit the Earth. He later served 24 years as a Democratic U.S. senator from Ohio and returned to space at age 77, orbiting Earth 134 times in 1998. That same year, as he was preparing to leave the Senate, he helped create the John Glenn Institute for Public Service and Public Policy at Ohio State.

Glenn’s death sparked numerous remembrances by people who crossed his path.

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Glenn was different from the other Mercury 7 astronauts.

“Sunday mornings, when the parents of the other six were nursing their hangovers, he was on the beach having track meets with the kids. He and Annie would hand out medals to us,” said Bob Foster, whose father worked on the Mercury missions. “He was a great man.”

Foster, who now lives in Los Alamos, California, remembered watching Glenn’s first launch from Cocoa Beach, Florida, in 1962. He was about 11 years old at the time, and space travel was a marvel.

“Incredible. Everybody was outside watching the missile go off. Then, everybody was inside watching the television,” Foster said.

When Glenn returned from orbiting the Earth three times, the astronaut…