RIP Scott Carpenter
I grew up in Boulder, Colorado. When I was a kid, we could go over to the Scott Carpenter Park Pool and go swimming with our friends. I was never much of a swimmer, but I went to the pool there a few times anyway. The pool was named for an astronaut from Boulder, we were told, and I suppose it was a point of pride and wonder for many of us. This happened back when NASA astronauts were incredibly rare and quite famous. Remember, there was a time when there were just seven US astronauts, and they were the very first Americans to travel in space. It was at a time when scientists didn't know if humans could even survive in zero-g.
These seven men were true heroes - strapped into tiny, barely tested, titanium tin cans balanced atop re-purposed vengeance weapons or re-purposed ICBMs, and with the glaring specter of death a real and ever-present possibility, they flew into the great unknown, both of the scientific and engineering variety. And there in Boulder, the namesake of our pool was one of those guys.
He was our hometown boy. Born in Boulder on May 1, 1925. He went to school there, and went to college there in 1945. He would eventually earn his aeronautical engineering degree in 1962. The Korean war interrupted college, he joined the Navy and end up flying during the Korean War, became a test pilot, studied Naval Intelligence in Monterrey, CA. In 1958, he was given secret order to report to Washington DC for a special project. The project turned out to be the Mercury project. On May 24, 1962, he road the Mercury Aurora 7 into space for a three orbit trip. And though he landed a bit off his mark, he did make it back and had performed valuable science while in space.
Scott Carpenter carpenter would never fly in space again, but instead began a NASA career centered around the SEALAB program. He would also work at NASA with the underwater neutral buoyancy training tank, and would begin a venture capital company called Sea Sciences Inc. centered around utilizing sea-based resources and planetary stewardship. His life continued on and he kept busy. He wrote books, both about space and about undersea life.
But on October 10, 2013 at the age of 88 he died due to complications relating to a stroke he had suffered. He has since moved on to the next great adventure we must all take. Good luck, Mr. Carpenter, and thank you for sharing your life with us.
Please Note: I would be remiss if I didn't include a link to a wonderful site about Scott Carpenter. It was also the site which provided much of the information in this post. Please check it out.