Mercury astronaut Scott Carpenter died this morning at a hospice in Denver, he was 88. Carpenter’s 1962 space flight made him the second American to orbit the Earth. Millions of Americans were glued to their television sets anxiously waiting to see if the astronaut had survived the tumultuous flight that was hampered by a series of technical glitches.
M. Scott Carpenter was one of the last two still living astronauts of the United States’ original space program, Project Mercury. John Glenn is the sole survivor of the Mercury 7. After flying the first orbital mission on February 1962, Glenn went on to become an Ohio Senator. Carpenter’s wife Patty did not announce a cause of death, but the New York Times reported that the astronaut had recently suffered a stroke.
Carpenter landed far from his intended landing zone after orbiting the Earth. After the Lieutenant Commander splashed into the waters surrounding Puerto Rico in the Aurora 7 space capsule, he told the nation that he had fulfilled a life-long dream.
In We Seven, a book filled with reflections of the original American astronauts, Scott Carpenter said:
“I volunteered for a number of reasons. One of these, quite frankly, was that I thought this was a chance for immortality. Pioneering in space was something I would willingly give me life for.”
It took more than an hour for Project Mercury officials to locate Carpenter, who was more than 250 miles for the anticipated landing one. Carpenter make three orbits around the Earth during his five-hour flight.
Radar signals verified that the capsule had re-entered the atmosphere, but there was no immediate indication whether or not the astronaut had survived. A Navy search plane ultimately found him floating on a life raft.
Scott Carpenter was the fourth American astronaut to fly in space. Virgil Grissom and Alan Shepard flew on the first two Mercury flights, followed by John Glenn’s Earth orbit.
[Featured Image Via: Shutterstock.com]
[Secondary Images Via: NASA]