The Political Career of Sigma 7

After his space flight, John Glenn entered politics, eventually becoming a U.S. Senator from his home state of Ohio. After an unsuccessful bid to become the the Democratic vice presidential nominee in 1976, Glenn entered the race to become the Democratic presidential candidate in 1983.

As described in John Glenn: A Memoir, Glenn announced his candidacy at John Glenn High School in New Concord, Ohio (the town in which Glenn grew up; the school was named after him after his space flight) on April 21, 1983.

Later that year, he held a campaign kick-off event at the U.S. Space & Rocket Center. Since the spacecraft he flew, Friendship 7, was on display at the National Air & Space Museum, he called upon the closest available Mercury spacecraft, Sigma 7 (which was at the time was on display at the USSRC) to serve as a backdrop for the photo opportunity:

John Glenn presidential announcement kick-off US Space and Rocket

From page 76 of The Real Space Cowboys.
Scan by heroicrelics.

Among the attendees at the campaign event was fellow Mercury astronaut Wally Schirra. Reunited with the spacecraft he flew in 1962, Wally had a bit of fun. Ed Buckbee tells me that they looked for, but were unable to find, a cowboy hat:

Wally Schirra rides Sigma 7 at the USSRC

From the color section of The Real Space Cowboys.
Scan by heroicrelics.

Alas, the success of Sigma 7's flight did not carry over to John Glenn's presidential bid, as he fared poorly in the polls. By early 1984, Glenn threw in the towel. From John Glenn: A Memoir:

. . . on March 16, 1984, I played Kenny Roger's "The Gambler" for my Senate staff. "You've got to know when to fold'em" the country legend sang. I announced my withdrawal from the race at a news conference in the Senate caucus room. "Although my campaign for presidency will end," I said, "my campaign for a better America will continue."

For more information and documents from the USSRC's history, see my early Alabama Space & Rocket Center brochure, my Official Guide to the Alabama Space & Rocket Center brochure, and my Vintage USSRC Photos page Also see, which has a couple of additional ASRC brochures: one, two.