Boulder man remembers John Glenn, time in space exploration

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BOULDER, Colo. -- A Boulder man was part of a team that recorded Friendship 7's launch into space.

Each wall of Michael Kennedy's Boulder apartment tells a story.

One wall shows the time he met the George W. Bush family. Another shows his time spent in South Africa, while another holds his many college degrees.

But inside Kennedy's scrap books are the stories of the earliest space exploration, the years before NASA existed.

"I knew he was in the hospital," Kennedy said of John Glenn, "And I was sensitive that he wouldn't make it much longer."

Kennedy, 82, was in his 20s when he first met Glenn. He was a console operator at a South African command center that recorded Friendship 7's insertion into space.

"John Glenn's ride in space starts today," reads one of Kennedy's South African news articles.

"And this is sort of ominous," said Kennedy, quoting the article. "'Carry on even if I die, astronaut tells U.S.' Because it was really risky, he's used to taking risks all of his life."

Kennedy said Glenn, who died Thursday, knew that first orbital flight was dangerous.

"Nobody had ever done it. His hardware was untested relatively speaking," he said.

Kennedy said he met Glenn on multiple occasions, that his personality was different to the other astronauts.

"Fighter pilot, test pilot, astronaut. He was really a risk taker, but he was very self contained in contrast to his colleagues," Kennedy said. "Most of them anyway."

Emotional over the lost, Kennedy said it has been difficult watching astronauts from that era pass over the years.

"He was absolutely an idol," he said.

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