Scott Carpenter (1 May 1925 – 10 October 2013) was the second American to orbit the Earth in the Mercury capsule Aurora died on Thursday from a stroke.
His flight on 24 May 1962 achieved 3 orbits in just under 5 hours at a maximum altitude of 264 km. The orbital velocity was 28,215 km/h. (By the way, due to the US Government shutdown, the NASA website appears to be down).
Of the seven Mercury astronauts, only John Glenn (b. 1921) remains alive. The others of course were:
- Alan Shepard (1923 – 1998) died from leukemia
- Gus Grissom (1926 – 1967), killed in the fire of Apollo 1
- Wally Schirra (1923 – 2007), died from a heart attack
- Gordo Cooper (1927 – 2004), died from heart failure after developing Parkinson’s Disease
- Deke Slayton (1924 – 1993), died from a malignant brain tumour.
In remembering these space pioneers, we should not neglect those from the Soviet Union.
On 19 August 1960, two Russian dogs, Belka and Strelka, became the first mammals to fly to space and safely land (unlike Laika, the dog who was launched into space on 3 November 1957 and died as the first mammal to orbit the earth). Nikita Khrushchev gave one of Strelka’s pups to Caroline Kennedy in 1961 (she is now Obama’s nominee to be US Ambassador to Japan).
Then there was Ham, the chimp launched into space by the US on 6 January 1961.
Yuri Gagarin became the first man in space, orbiting the earth on 12 April 1961.
Alan Shepard became the second man in space in a suborbital flight on 5 May 1961.
Gus Grissom became the third man in space in a suborbital flight on 21 July 1961.
Gherman Titov became the fourth man in space, orbiting the earth on 6 August 1961.
John Glenn became the fifth man in space, orbiting the earth on 20 February 1962.
Scott Carpenter was the sixth man in space, orbiting the earth on 24 May 1962.