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Scott Carpenter: The Luckiest Astronaut
Posted By Patrick Kiger On October 11, 2013 @ 1:37 pm In Bulletin Today,Legacy | Comments Disabled
In May 1962, Scott Carpenter became the second American astronaut, after John Glenn, to orbit the Earth — and the first to survive a series of mishaps that might have ended in catastrophe.
After orbiting the Earth three times in his Mercury capsule, the Aurora 7, and reaching a height of 164 miles, Carpenter prepared for re-entry. But then, according to an account on his website , things started to go wrong. The automatic system that stabilized and controlled the retro rockets failed, leaving the capsule unable to hold the planned angle for descending into the atmosphere. Carpenter took over manual control, but he couldn’t get full thrust from the rockets and the capsule ended up overshooting the planned splashdown site by about 250 miles.
He also lost communication with NASA in Cape Canaveral. While NASA had tracked his location on radar, the agency neglected to convey that information  to the news media, leading CBS’s Walter Cronkite to speculate that Carpenter had been lost at sea. Finally, after 55 minutes, a helicopter reached Carpenter, who was floating on a raft alongside his capsule, and eventually he was flown to a Navy ship, where he received a congratulatory call from President John F. Kennedy.
Here are eight interesting facts about Carpenter, who died on Oct. 10 at age 88  in Denver:
Here’s a short clip from a 1999 oral history interview  with Carpenter. 
Photo of Carpenter in 2010: Jen Scheer via Flickr 
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URLs in this post:
 Image: http://blog.aarp.org/wp-content/uploads/2013/10/carpenter.jpg
 website: http://www.scottcarpenter.com/aurora7.htm
 Sign up for the AARP Health Newsletter: https://login.aarp.org/online-community/memberLoginForm.action?referrer=https%3A%2F%2Fsecure.aarp.org%2Fapplications%2Faccount%2FeditNewsletters.action%3Fo%3Dsuccess%26intcmp%3DILC-EMAIL-SUB-HLTH%26newsletterId%3D19061
 neglected to convey that information: http://query.nytimes.com/mem/archive/pdf?res=F00711FD3B5A117B93C4AB178ED85F468685F9
 died on Oct. 10 at age 88: http://www.washingtonpost.com/national/scott-carpenter-mercury-7-astronaut-and-second-american-to-orbit-earth-dies-at-88/2013/10/10/7df363d2-31ec-11e3-8627-c5d7de0a046b_story.html?hpid=z5
 memoir: http://www.amazon.com/For-Spacious-Skies-Uncommon-Astronaut/dp/0151004676/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1381459341&sr=8-1&keywords=for+spacious+skies
 2001 letter: http://www.nytimes.com/books/01/04/01/letters/letters.html
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 1999 oral history interview: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iBslf6SV2RU
 Jen Scheer via Flickr: http://www.flickr.com/photos/forthebirds/5334002570/
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