TOKYO — Marine Lt. Col. John Glenn Jr. arrived in Tokyo from Nagasaki Sunday and said he never thought fellow astronaut L. Gordon Cooper was in serious danger during the finale of his 22-orbit space spectacular.
Glenn arrived at Tokyo International Airport from Osaka, last lap of his flight from Nagasaki, to being a semi-official visit to Japan and for a reunion with his family. His wife, daughter and son arrived in Japan by jet Saturday night.
America's first astronaut was aboard the U.S. Air Force communications ship Coastal Sentry and talked with Cooper by radio as the astronaut prepared to manually fire the retro-rockets that brought his spacecraft down in the Pacific near Midway Island.
The automatic system that was to have fired the rockets for reentry into the Earth's atmosphere had failed.
Glenn, answering newsmen's questions, said, "I don't believe there was any serious danger to his life. That's what these backup systems are for."
"My job was just to aid him," Glenn explained. "There is concern any time anything goes wrong, but there was no real serious trouble this time."
He said Cooper's problem was not the sane trouble he (Glenn) had upon re-entry.
"This was a different set of circumstances." he said, explaining that any definitive statement on the failure of the automatic system in Cooper's spacecraft would have to come after tape recordings of the signal flashed back to earth are analyzed by Cape Canaveral scientists.
Glenn, suntanned and smiling, broke out his camera just before stepping off the plane to shoot some pictures through the plane window for the family album.
He was greeted by U.S. Ambassador and Mrs. Edwin O. Reischauer, the Glenn family — Mrs. Glenn, David, 17, and Carolyn, 13 — and a crowd of more than 1,000 spectators who jammed the ramp.
He shook hands with Reischauer, greeted Mrs. Reischauer, kissed his wife, said hello to Carolyn and shook hands with David, greeting him with, "Hi, son."
Glenn, relaxed and friendly, turned to Reischauer and said, "I'm new here. What do we do?"
Immediately after talking with newsmen, Glenn broke out. his camera again and took more pictures of the family aid waiting dignitaries.
As Glenn and his party passed through the domestic air terminal, a Japanese boy of about 16 climbed over a rail and handed Mrs. Glenn a small bouquet of white carnations.
Obviously touched by the gesture, she thanked the boy and continued with the party to a waiting limousine. It whisked them to Reischauer's official residence where the Glenns will be house guests during their stay in Japan.
Ahead of Glenn is a 12-day vacation, but. he will be getting red carpet treatment the Japanese government usually reserves for high-ranking visitors.
After a briefing by Reischauer Sunday afternoon, Glenn taped two TV shows and then rushed back to the embassy for a formal dinner with the Reischauers as hosts.
Monday morning, Glenn paid courtesy calls on Japanese Crown Prince Akihito, Foreign Minister Masayoshi Ohira and Prince Minister Ikeda.
He presented Ikeda with an exact replica of the Friendship 7 space capsule in which Glenn orbited the Earth three times Feb. 20, 1962,
After that, Glenn faced meetings with Japanese scientists and science students, a press conference, a banquet and another TV show.
Tuesday, the Glenns will motor to Hakone National Park, pausing en route for a 30-minute ride on Japan's 180-mile-an-hour train being readied for fulltime express service between Tokyo and Osaka.
They will return to Tokyo May 29 after a leisurely tour of central Japan and fly back to the U.S. May 31.