From the Stars and Stripes archives

Astronaut Glenn rides again!

A large crowd gathers during John Glenn's visit with retired sandal shop operator Tokuzo Shibuya.



KAMONOMIYA, Japan — Astronaut John H. Glenn Jr., who orbited the Earth at five miles a second, Tuesday rode Japan's 120-mile-an-hour "dream train'' and said it felt faster than his spacecraft.

Glenn, vacationing in Japan with his family after participating in the Pacific area tracking of Astronaut L. Gordon Cooper's 22-orbit flight, took a 30-minute test run on the bullet-shaped electric train of the New Tokaido Line here.

"It's the fastest I've ever gone at this altitude," said the Marine lieutenant colonel, summing up his reaction to the ride.

"I haven't ridden many trains lately," he added, "but you feel speed more in a train like this or even driving a car down the street than in an orbiting spacecraft."

Glenn was accompanied by his wife, Annie, his daughter, Carolyn, 16, his son David, 17, American Embassy officials, about 50 Japanese orphans, and more than 100 newsmen and photographers

He explained that an orbiting astronaut doesn't feel speed because "in a spacecraft you don't have anything close to you to compare your speed with. You feel more speed in a train like this when you can see the landscape whipping by," he added.

Glenn took a keen interest in the technical workings of the train and brought his family into the motorman's cab. But his interest brought an admonition from his wife, Annie, "to keep your hands off those buttons, John. You don't know what will happen."

Mrs. Glenn called the ride "exciting a and thrilling."

Asked if she would rattier her husband were a train conductor than an astronaut because the former profession might be safer she replied:

"I wouldn't say that at all."

Glenn said he felt a slight pressure in his ears when the train entered a tunnel and noted that he had the same reaction when reentering the atmosphere in his spacecraft.

"But since I've had 'skoshi' (little) training, it didn't bother me," he told newsmen, smiling.

John Glenn focuses his camera as he rides the high-speed train with his son, David.