Thursday, October 10, 2013

Mercury 7 Astronaut, Scott Carpenter, dead at 88; was 4th American in space, 2nd to orbit earth

     Carpenter died Thursday at a Denver hospice; no cause was released. Of the original U.S. astronauts, only John Glenn, 92, is still alive.
     He spent four hours and 56 minutes encircling the earth three times in his Aurora 7 capsule before splashing down off Puerto Rico on May 24, 1962, about 250 miles from his target site, an error for which he was blamed by some at NASA.
      Wrote Christopher Kraft, the flight director, in his memoir “Flight: My Life in Mission Control” (2001):
“He was completely ignoring our request to check his instruments,”  “I swore an oath that Scott Carpenter would never again fly in space. He didn’t.” 
     Carpenter’s chances of flying another NASA mission were ended by a motorbike injury that eventually caused him to leave NASA in 1967.
     At 5'10", Carpenter was one of the tallest Mercury 7 astronauts, none of whom could be over 5'11" because of the size of the capsule. He was married four times and was the only astronaut to become an aquanaut, spending a month living and working on the ocean floor, at a depth of 205 feet, in the Sealab project off San Diego in the summer of 1965.

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