Scott Carpenter, the second American to orbit the Earth and one of the last two survivors of the famed original Mercury 7 astronauts, died Thursday in a Denver hospice of complications from a September stroke.
His orbit, launched on May 24, 1962, followed John Glenn’s three months earlier. When he missed his landing target by almost 300 miles on his return, the country watched on live television, unsure if he would survive. The Navy found him in the Caribbean, floating in his life raft with his feet propped up. He would end up leaving NASA over a disagreement about what went wrong.
Carpenter was as entranced by the ocean as he had been by space. When his NASA career came to an end, he turned his eyes toward the sea, becoming the only astronaut who was also an aquanaut. In 1965, he spent 30 days under the ocean off the coast of California as part of the Navy’s SeaLab II program. Inspired by Jacques Cousteau, Carpenter worked with the Navy to bring some of NASA’s training and technology to the sea floor.
In addition to writing his memoirs, he wrote two novels: “The Steel Albatross” and “Deep Flight.”
Life was an adventure for Carpenter and he said it should be for others: “Every child has got to seek his own destiny. All I can say is that I have had a great time seeking my own.”
Here is a photo gallery of Carpenter and the Mercury 7 astronauts.
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