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US lowers flags to half-mast in honour of space hero John Glenn

President Barack Obama has ordered that US flags on all public buildings and military posts should be flown at half-mast as a "mark of respect for the memory" of retired astronaut John Glenn.

Glenn, who was elevated to hero status in 1962 when he became the first American to orbit the earth, died on Thursday at a hospital in Columbus, Ohio, aged 95.

Mr Obama said flags should remain at half-mast until sunset on the day of Glenn's internment, which is being planned at Arlington National Cemetery just outside Washington.

Glenn also served as a Marine combat pilot and he represented Ohio in the US Senate for more than two decades.

He will lie in state in the Ohio Statehouse and a memorial service is being planned at Ohio State University.

Glenn was the third US astronaut in space and the first of them to get into orbit. He circled the Earth three times.

The last survivor of the original Mercury 7 astronauts returned to space in 1998, aged 77, aboard space shuttle Discovery.

Flags around New Concord, Glenn's hometown in eastern Ohio, have already been lowered and the university where he was a trustee held a moment of silence before a basketball game on Thursday when news of his death emerged.

AP

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