Scott Carpenter, one of the original Mercury Seven astronauts, passed away earlier today at the age of 88.
He flew the Aurora 7 capsule in the second American manned mission to orbit the Earth. During his five-hour, three-orbit mission, Carpenter was the first American to eat solid food in space. Carpenter nearly spent as much time in the water waiting to be picked up as he did in space, as he overshot the planned landing area by 250 miles. He was picked up by helicopter and taken to the USS Intrepid. The overshoot was blamed on a pitch horizon scanner malfunction.
After Carpenter’s Mercury mission, the University of Colorado at Boulder awarded him a degree in aeronautical engineering. You know that recurring nightmare where you miss the final exam? He did that his senior year. He had missed the requirements for graduation in 1949 by one credit in heat transfer, and the university declared that “[h]is subsequent training as an Astronaut has more than made up for the deficiency in the subject of heat transfer.”
Carpenter suffered a serious arm injury in a motorcycle accident in 1964. This did not stop him from earning the title of aquanaut in the SEALAB II experiment, but it did disqualify him from further spaceflight.
I should note that as a Naval aviator, Carpenter flew reconnaissance and anti-sub patrol missions in the Pacific during the Korean War. He retired from the Navy with the rank of Commander.
Fair winds and following seas, sir.