Scott Carpenter, Second American To Orbit Earth, Dies

Scott Carpenter, the fourth American astronaut to fly in space and the second to orbit earth, died on Thursday, a NASA official tells NPR.

Carpenter, an original Mercury 7 astronaut, was 88.

NPR’s Russell Lewis filed this report for our Newscast unit:

“Scott Carpenter’s 1962 flight was just five hours and his mission was to determine how well humans could function in weightlessness. His capsule circled the earth three times before returning for a parachute landing.

“Carpenter was about 250 miles off-course because of a technical malfunction. He would never fly in space again. Remembering his mission in 2012, he realizes now humans are in a survival mode.

“We’ve got to take care of the resources we have on this planet, because there’s no resupply possible,” he said.

“Carpenter was also a Navy veteran who served in the Korean War.”

The New York Times has a bit more about that 1962 mission marred by technical glitches:

“His death leaves John H. Glenn Jr., who flew the first orbital mission on Feb. 20, 1962, and later became a United States senator from Ohio, as the last survivor of the Mercury 7.

“When Lieutenant Commander Carpenter splashed down off Puerto Rico in his Aurora 7 capsule on May 24, 1962, after a harrowing mission, he had fulfilled a dream.

‘I volunteered for a number of reasons,’ he wrote in We Seven, a book of reflections by the original astronauts published in 1962. ‘One of these, quite frankly, was that I thought this was a chance for immortality. Pioneering in space was something I would willingly give my life for.'”

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