John Glenn's fury over death of Nasa space programme

Now 90, Glenn, a retired Marine Corps pilot, said research is the most important benefit of the US space programme and lauded the decision to extend the International Space Station's life to at least 2020 from 2015.

"People say, 'Well, what good is research?' I think every bit of progress made by human beings has been made because somebody was curious about the unknown," Glenn said.

"If there's one thing we have learned through the history of our country, it's that money spent on basic research has a way of paying back in the future beyond anything we ever see at the outset," he said.

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