John Glenn is back on Earth, but he's still NASA's guinea pig.
The world's oldest astronaut even had to climb back into a wired-up sleep suit Sunday night so that his post-flight slumber can be compared with how he slept in orbit.
Glenn spent several nights in the wired-up pajamas during his nine-day space flight aboard the shuttle Discovery. Up next for the world's oldest astronaut are three weeks of medical tests at Johnson Space Center related to his mission aboard the shuttle Discovery, reports CBS Space Consultant Bill Harwood. The mission ended on schedule with a near-flawless landing Saturday at Kennedy Space Center in Florida.
Jubilant onlookers cheer Discovery as it glides to a landing.(Reuters)
In the next few weeks, Glenn faces what he calls bloodletting; he provided 17 blood samples in orbit, and he must provide more before he can return to his Washington-area home around Thanksgiving. Even then, he'll have to undergo monthly muscle and bone tests for six months.
But it won't be all work for Glenn. The city of Houston will hold a parade to honor the 77-year-old and his six crewmates Wednesday.
More than 1,000 people packed a Houston airport hangar Sunday to greet the seven astronauts upon their arrival from Florida's Kennedy Space Center. Mayor Lee Brown told them their mission had "renewed an American love affair with space travel."
The astronauts, who seemed overwhelmed by the show of support, urged Americans to maintain an interest in the space program after this mission.
"Do not let the landing...be the final chapter in this exciting adventure about space," said shuttle commander Curtis Brown Jr. "Instead, let it be the first chapter in a new adventure: the international space station."
Added Glenn: "I wish that every flight received this same kind of attention. Each flight deserves it."
Click Here To See An Animated Simulation Of Discovery's Mission Explained By CBS Evening News Anchor Dan Rather.
Earlier, at his first post-flight news conference, Glenn said he was "95 or 98 percent back to normal," though he admitted he "didn't feel too hot" when he stood and walked off the shuttle Saturday after nine days of weightlessness.
Asked how the mission stacked up against his history-making ride in 1962, when he became the first American in orbit, Glenn said, "I got great satisfaction the first time out of just being up there and being the first one to do this for our country. And here I am, all these yeas later."
Asked if his flight aboard Discovery was definitely his last space
voyage, Glenn said his wife had left little doubt on that score.
"Annie has demanded that I spend more of my time with her than I've been able to do in the past, and I think that's a reasonable look to the future," he said.
But he left the door open to work with NASA in some capacity, saying, "I do strongly believe in this program and firmly believe we're getting a lot of good information, and if I can help out in some way and help relay this kind of information back and forth to the American people so they can appreciate the importance of it."
Saturday's smooth landing wrapped up a 3.68 million-mile voyage that took the shuttle around Earth 134 times. The last time Glenn flew, he logged a paltry 78,124 miles and circled Earth three times over five hours.