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In Tribute

The date of the NASA ceremonial tree planting in Scott's memory will be announced
as soon as the date is confirmed. The rumored February 18th date is NOT true.

File video: Original Astronauts at National Air an...

Original Astronauts at National Air and Space Museum: John Glenn and Scott Carpenter are the only surviving members of the country's original astronaut corps.

 


Pictures from various appearances.



 




 


 


Scott and Astronaut Nurse Dee O'Hara in 2007

 

I've had the pleasure of working with Scott Carpenter for several years, both as his webmaster and his friend. I've been lucky enough to befriend many of the "golden age" astronauts as well as their support staff. Along with Scott, I had the pleasure of getting to know Gordon Cooper and Wally Schirra. Scott, Wally and Gordo were magnificent men who flew into the unknown simply to go higher, faster and farther than anyone else. The greatest group of gentleman that it was my pleasure to meet and get to know.

Scott was a gentle man. I often referred to him as "a poet". When I met him many years ago, there was no "pilot ego" or any sense of a "hot, fighter jock". He was always there to extend his hand and thank you for making his acquaintance. Personally, I will miss the many messages that he left on my answering machine that always started with "How is my old friend, Tracy Kornfeld?". Our conversations were wonderful. When my wife passed away, he called with encouraging words that I still repeat to myself today. How odd that he passed on the same day as my wife, seven years later. You will both be dearly missed,

Godspeed, Scott Carpenter and thank you for your wonderful friendship. I will never forget our times together and the wonderful invitation to the celebration of the 50th anniversary of your Aurora 7 flight as pictured above. A generous man who I will never forget.

Tracy Kornfeld
Webmaster
10 October 2013

Send all tributes to webmaster@scottcarpenter.com for possible publication

 

Boulder astronaut Scott Carpenter dies at

88: 'He wanted to be the best'

Mercury 7 astronaut suffered stroke in September

By John Aguilar, Camera Staff Writer

Posted:   10/10/2013 02:05:07 PM MDT | Updated:   4 months ago

Legendary Boulder-born astronaut Scott Carpenter -- who in 1962 became the second American to orbit the Earth and the first person to explore both the heights of space and depths of the ocean -- died Thursday in Denver with his wife at his side. He was 88.

Along with John Glenn, who flew three months before him, Carpenter was one of the last two survivors of the original Mercury 7 astronauts for the fledgling U.S. space program. He lived in Vail until a few weeks ago, when he suffered a stroke that put him in Swedish Medical Center and, eventually, The Denver Hospice at Lowry.

"On Sunday, we watched the Broncos-Dallas game and he was very verbal," his daughter Candy Carpenter said Thursday.

But he took a turn for the worse the next day and never recovered.

Candy Carpenter, 57, said her father died peacefully at 5:30 a.m. of complications from the stroke with his wife, Patty Barrett, by his side.

"He wanted to be the best pilot, he wanted to be the best navigator, he wanted to be the best father, he wanted to be the best diver," Candy Carpenter said. "He wanted to be the best at everything."

She said he also came from an era when astronauts regularly put their lives on the line testing out new equipment and new technologies in situations and conditions humans had never before faced.

"That was one of the things he was most proud of was to be able to go to space and prove or disprove all those fears," she said. "He loved machines."

Gordon Page, founder of the Spirit of Flight Center in Erie, credits Carpenter with setting the stage for the hundreds of astronauts who would come after him. He was part of a select group of early space explorers who likely didn't fully recognize just how much their bravery and determination would push forward an industry that now plays an instrumental role in both Boulder County and Colorado as a whole, Page said.

Scott Carpenter laughs while a guest speaker makes a joke on Thursday, Sept. 20, 2012, during the Scott Carpenter Park re-dedication ceremony in Boulder.

Scott Carpenter laughs while a guest speaker makes a joke on Thursday, Sept. 20, 2012, during the Scott Carpenter Park re-dedication ceremony in Boulder. (Jeremy Papasso / Daily Camera)

"I see him as the starting point -- look at all the jobs and technological advances that just these few guys played a role in producing," Page said. "It was a unique point in American history that allowed people to break records and go further than ever before without a lot of red tape and budget issues."

'Willingly give my life'

Carpenter, who was born in Boulder on May 1, 1925, as Malcolm Scott Carpenter (he hated his first name and didn't use it), began to look skyward for inspiration at a very young age.

"The big influence for my father as a 5-year-old was seeing Lowry Air Force Base being built and Stapleton Airport being built," daughter Kris Stoever said Thursday. "It was the first time he saw an airplane overhead."

In this Aug.1962 photo, astronaut Scott Carpenter has his space suit adjusted by a technician in Cape Canaveral, Fla. Carpenter, the second American to

In this Aug.1962 photo, astronaut Scott Carpenter has his space suit adjusted by a technician in Cape Canaveral, Fla. Carpenter, the second American to orbit the Earth and one of the last surviving original Mercury 7 astronauts, died Thursday, Oct. 10, 2013. He was 88. (AP Photo, File) (Uncredited)

His maternal grandparents raised Carpenter after his mother became ill with tuberculosis and his parents split up. Stoever said her father loved climbing the Flatirons and pastured a horse, named Lady Luck, at the base of Flagstaff Mountain.

"Boulder formed my father," she said.

And he was recognized by the city. A park at 30th Street and Arapahoe Avenue was after the astronaut, while Boulder's Aurora 7 Elementary took its name from Carpenter's Mercury capsule. Scott Carpenter Park was rededicated last year to celebrate the 50th anniversary of his space flight.

Carpenter graduated from Boulder High in 1943 and went on to the University of Colorado, but only attended one semester before joining the Navy's V-12a training program, designed to help train pilots during World War II.

He returned to CU to study aeronautical engineering, but, in 1949, rejoined the Navy and continued his pilot training -- one course short of finishing his bachelor's degree.

On April 9, 1959, after a decade in the Navy, the newly formed National Aeronautics and Space Administration announced that Carpenter was one of seven chosen to be part of its first astronaut group, which came to be known as the Mercury 7.

The launch into space on the morning of May 24, 1962, was nerve-racking for the Navy pilot.

"You're looking out at a totally black sky, seeing an altimeter reading of 90,000 feet and realize you are going straight up. And the thought crossed my mind: 'What am I doing?'" Carpenter said 49 years later in a joint lecture with Glenn at the Smithsonian Institution.

Scott Carpenter rides with his wife, Rene, and his sons, Scotty and Jay, in Hawaii in the early 1950s.

Scott Carpenter rides with his wife, Rene, and his sons, Scotty and Jay, in Hawaii in the early 1950s. (Photo courtesy of Carnegie Branch Library for Local History)

For Carpenter, the momentary fear was worth it, he said in 2011: "The view of Mother Earth and the weightlessness is an addictive combination of senses."

For the veteran Navy officer, flying in space or diving to the ocean floor was more than a calling. In 1959, soon after being chosen one of NASA's pioneering seven astronauts, Carpenter wrote about his hopes, concluding: "This is something I would willingly give my life for."

Three months later, Carpenter was launched into space from Cape Canaveral, Fla., and completed three orbits around Earth in his space capsule, the Aurora 7, which he named after the celestial event. It was just a coincidence, Carpenter said, that he grew up on the corner of Aurora Avenue and Seventh Street in Boulder.

His four hours, 39 minutes and 32 seconds of weightlessness were "the nicest thing that ever happened to me," Carpenter told a NASA historian. "The zero-g sensation and the visual sensation of spaceflight are transcending experiences and I wish everybody could have them."

His trip led to many discoveries about spacecraft navigation and space itself, such as that space offers almost no resistance, which he found out by trailing a balloon. Carpenter said astronauts in the Mercury program found most of their motivation from the space race with the Russians. When he completed his orbit of the Earth, he said he thought: "Hooray, we're tied with the Soviets," who had completed two manned orbits at that time.

'We may have... lost an astronaut'

But things started to go wrong on re-entry. He was low on fuel and a key instrument that tells the pilot which way the capsule is pointing malfunctioned, forcing Carpenter to manually take over control of the landing. NASA's Mission Control then announced that he would overshoot his landing zone by more than 200 miles and, worse, they had lost contact with him.

Talking to a suddenly solemn nation, CBS newsman Walter Cronkite told the audience: "We may have ... lost an astronaut."

At a time when astronauts achieved fame on par with rock stars, folks across the country sat glued to their TV screens, anxiously awaiting the outcome of Carpenter's mission. Dave Klaus, a professor in aerospace engineering sciences at CU, said the routine nature of space travel today and the assurances people take from that simply didn't exist then.

"There was a lot of unknowns and a lot of uncertainty at that time," Klaus said.

But Carpenter survived the landing that day.

Always cool under pressure -- his heart rate never went above 105 during the flight -- he oriented himself by simply peering out the space capsule's window. The Navy found him in the Caribbean, floating in his life raft with his feet propped up. He offered up some of his space rations.

Carpenter's perceived nonchalance didn't sit well some with NASA officials, particularly flight director Chris Kraft. The two feuded about it from then on.

Kraft accused Carpenter of being distracted and behind schedule, as well as making poor decisions. He blamed Carpenter for the low fuel.

On his website, Carpenter acknowledged that he didn't shut off a switch at the right time, doubling fuel loss. Still, in his 2003 memoir, he wrote: "I think the data shows that the machine failed."

From deep space to deep seas

Carpenter never did go back in space, but his explorations continued. In 1965, he spent 30 days under the ocean off the coast of California as part of the Navy's SeaLab II program. Once again the motivation was both fear and curiosity.

"I wanted, No. 1, to learn about it (the ocean), but No. 2, I wanted to get rid of what was an unreasoned fear of the deep water," Carpenter told the NASA historian.

Inspired by Jacques Cousteau, Carpenter worked with the Navy to bring some of NASA's training and technology to the sea floor. A broken arm kept him out of the first SeaLab, but he made the second in 1965. The 57-by-12-foot habitat was lowered to a depth of 205 feet off San Diego. A bottlenose dolphin named Tuffy ferried supplies from the surface to the aquanauts below.

"SeaLab was an apartment, but it was very crowded. Ten men lived inside. We worked very hard. We slept very little," he recalled in a 1969 interview. Years later, he said he actually preferred his experience on the ocean floor to his time in space.

"In the overall scheme of things, it's the underdog in terms of funding and public interest," he said. "They're both very important explorations. One is much more glorious than the other. Both have tremendous potential."

After another stint at NASA in the mid-1960s, helping develop the Apollo lunar lander, Carpenter returned to the SeaLab program as director of aquanaut operations for SeaLab III.

He retired from the Navy in 1969, founded his company Sea Sciences Inc., worked closely with Cousteau and dove in most of the world's oceans, including under the ice in the Arctic.

When the 77-year-old Glenn returned to orbit in 1998 aboard space shuttle Discovery, Carpenter radioed: "Good luck, have a safe flight and ... once again, Godspeed, John Glenn."

His influence felt at CU

At CU, Carpenter will be primarily remembered for his legacy in space.

Klaus said there have been 20 astronauts affiliated in some way with CU, including Kalpana Chawla, who was killed in the Columbia accident in 2003, and Ellison Onizuka, who died in the Challenger accident in 1986.

"He was the first of a long string of astronauts that came out of CU," he said. "He was a living legend."

Klaus remembers Carpenter making a visit to CU about 10 years ago, where a number of aerospace engineering students put on a presentation for him. Carpenter told Klaus that he was fascinated with the latest advancements in space travel technology and materials and would welcome the chance to start all over again learning about the field.

"He was excited to see the next generation coming up," Klaus said.

CU-Boulder Chancellor Phil DiStefano said Thursday that Carpenter will be "sorely missed."

"In his two-decades-long career as a Naval aviator, astronaut and aquanaut, Scott Carpenter brought honor and distinction to CU-Boulder while embodying the adventurous spirit of our nation," DiStefano said. "Our space program, and all space and ocean researchers everywhere, owe him a debt of gratitude."

Although Carpenter was one course requirement short of graduating with a bachelor's degree in aeronautical engineering when he left CU in 1949, the university awarded him his degree in 1962 following the successful Aurora 7 flight.

When presenting the degree to Carpenter, then-CU President Quigg Newton noted that "his subsequent training as an astronaut has more than made up for his deficiency in the subject of heat transfer."

Stoever, who co-wrote with her father the book "For Spacious Skies: The Uncommon Journey of a Mercury Astronaut," said there's no doubt her father's time at CU helped boost the school's aeronautical engineering reputation.

"Being a Project Mercury astronaut gave CU a lot of cachet," she said.

Great father, great teacher

But at the heart of it all, Stoever said, Carpenter was a man, a father and a great teacher.

"He was unusual in his generation for being gentle, kind and patient," she said. "He loved explaining how to do things the right way."

Candy Carpenter said her father, who married four times and had eight children, shone in areas much more grounded than space travel. He wrote two novels: "The Steel Albatross" and "Deep Flight." And he absolutely loved music.

Candy Carpenter said she'll always remember her father singing and playing guitar. When she had to be flown by rescue helicopter from her home in Big Elk Meadows in Larimer County during last month's floods, Carpenter said besides grabbing her dog, she made sure to bring with her the Gretsch guitar her father bought with Glenn in New York City in 1957.

His children all picked up the instrument, Candy Carpenter said, and she went on to become a guitar teacher in Longmont.

"And that was because he played guitar," she said. "He was a fabulous teacher, had a great sense of humor and was handsome as the Devil."

 

I'll never forget a day I spent with Scott Carpenter at his home in Vail a few years ago. He and Patty were gracious hosts, and it was one of the best days I've had in journalism. Scott was a genuinely nice man, and a great interview for a magazine feature I was writing. We talked for a while about his 1962 spaceflight, but more than anything, we talked about the future. He was convinced that someday kids will again grow up with the kind of excitement about space travel that many of us had in the 1960s and '70s. A human trip to
Mars might do the trick.

Scott was particularly good at relating to kids, and he often addressed them during his talks. He told me that at one of these events, he asked a young boy if he might want to be the first person to set foot on Mars, and the kid
answered: "Yeah, but could I take my mom?"

Rest in peace, Scott.

~Mark M.

 



I’m at a table with a couple of astronauts and Scott Carpenter at the ASF reception last year. I decide to break the ice with a quick story about my dad and an exploding cigar. One looks amused, another laughs, but Carpenter cracks up! Right then I know I’ve found a friend and I get an idea; I’ve got a cheap pair of Nasa cufflinks I picked up that day and I hand ‘em to Cmdr. Carpenter and say “Here I’m giving my cufflinks to you.” He says “What for?” and I reply “So you can give ‘em back to me and I can tell all my pilot buddies Scott Carpenter gave me these!” He thinks it’s a grand idea, but says they won’t believe it without a picture and unfortunately my phone is dead. So, Scott says “bring ‘em by tomorrow and we’ll stage the whole thing!” Well now there’s the picture proof and that’s how I got my fine Nasa cufflinks from my very close personal friend (for one brief evening) Mercury Astronaut Scott Carpenter. He was the best!
 
~Major Ron F.


Scott was one of the finest, most considerate gentleman you would ever meet, and a good friend. His life was filled with ups and downs, but he never let it affect his attitude. We will miss him.

~Walter Cunningham, LMP, Apollo 7


So long Scottie. Thank you for being one of the men who inspired me to become a pilot.   Godspeed old friend.


It was with huge sadness I heard the news this morning in the UK.
 
Scott was a true gentleman to all of us who met him back in 90's while we were working on the Sovereign of the Seas in the photo department. My friends some of whom now live in Australia, Europe and the the US have posted on facebook their memories and the group photograph he so kindly posed for.
 
For his flight into space and pioneering work in Sealab he will forever remain an inspiration to us all.

~David & Dawn


Had the pleasure in meeting Scott 3 times here in the UK, I’m so glad I took both my daughters to see him, also he was great with them..RIP Scott..

~Ian A.



 


I first met Scott Carpenter in 1992 at a fund raising event for the Astronaut Scholarship Foundation: "Celebrating 30 Years of Americans in Space."
 
Over the years I had the pleasure to meet him a number of times.
 
His book signing in Cocoa Beach in 2003 and the ASF Autograph Show more than once.  At one show I gifted Mr. Carpenter one of my Mercury Commemorative patches and that opened the door to discuss the possibility of designing a special 50th Anniversary commemorative to mark his space flight aboard Aurora 7.
 
At the unveiling of the Alan Shepard US Postal Stamp at the Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex , I presented him with the prototype patch that Jorge Cartes  and I designed. Soon after I received a phone call from him with the request to produce it. Scott Carpenter was always kind and gracious to me. He appreciated my effort on his behalf.
 
I will forever be grateful to have had the chance to work with a childhood hero.
Godspeed Scott Carpenter.

~Tim G.


I just wanted to express my sadness in knowing that one of the United States great heroes, pioneer and visionaries is now in God’s hands. Myself at the age of 59…I will be there in 20… or 30 years….cannot wait to talk to him. Your whole family has so much to be proud of….he is burned into my memory.

~Scott F.


I would like to express my sincere condolences for the loss of Cmdr. Carpenter on Thursday 10th of October. I wish his family and friends all the strength to cope with this great loss.

What was most impressive about him when I read his interviews was his eye for detail and his detailed story and anecdote telling. I loved the anecdotes about the sharks and his way of fighting his fear for the big oceans. Also the detailed descriptions of the test for becoming an astronaut which were pretty tough these days and which he describes in an unforgettable detailed and also lighthearted way. He even called these tests 'a lot of  fun'.

Like I wrote, I collect story's, anecdotes and articles and library's and newspapers have send me quite a lot. In Cmdr. Carpenters words, he told in his interview in the oral history project, he could tell another hundred thousand of story's, I will go on until this number of hundred thousand.

From the Netherlands.

~Angele


Thanks for setting a great example and shooting for the stars.

An American Hero

~David & Maureen E.


We had some great times together over the years.
May God be with you Scott.

~Bob S.


Good evening from France

I wish to send my thoughts and blesses to Mr. Carpenter.
Still a piece of my heroes who leaves our good Earth.
May god bless him and rest in peace among the stars.

~Daniel G.


Mr. Carpenter was so kind to my little boy when he posed for this photo in May, and it's a memory that won't soon be forgotten.
One day in the future my son might be one of the oldest people (god willing) around to be able to say that they met the legendary Scott Carpenter.

~Jason R.


 

Scott Carpenter Family;
Please accept our sincere condolences in the lost of your father/husband Scott. I'll always remember him as a sincere, always inquisitive officer while serving with him aboard the USS Hornet in 1958-59.
Regards,

~Don & Billie H.
 

I drove by the plaque at Scott Carpenter Park in Boulder last Friday and thought you might like to see the photo I took of the small tribute some kind soul left.

~David S.

 


I will greatly miss Scott Carpenter. He was a personal hero and role model, but more than that, he extended his friendship, for which I will always be grateful.

There are numerous stories I could share, but the one that comes foremost to mind is from September 2007. I had helped organize a space memorabilia show at NASA's Glenn Research Center in Ohio and Scott was the guest of honor. The day after the show ended, he and I both had flights out of Cleveland scheduled for late in the afternoon, but we didn't have any plans to see each other that day.

I was preparing to check out of the hotel when the phone rang.

"Hi, it's Scott, take me to lunch."

We went to a nearby aviation-themed restaurant that was located along the airport's runway and for about two hours, we just chatted. We talked about him, we talked about space exploration, we talked about my work, and just generally got to know each other better.

Towards the end of the conversation, he asked me what I thought members of my generation thought about him and the legacy he and his fellow Mercury astronauts created. The question caught me off guard and to be honest I don't recall my answer clearly enough to reprint it here, but it gave me the opportunity to share with him how much his achievements had meant to my own path in life.

(Several times during the lunch, my inner journalist would damn the fact I didn't have an audio recorder to capture the conversation.)

At the end of the meeting, we shook hands and headed separate ways. I met up with him several times since then, seated together at autograph shows and chatting at receptions but that unexpected lunch that day truly stands out — especially today.

Godspeed, Scott Carpenter.

~Robert. P.


It is with bittersweet humility I write to you following the passing of Scott Carpenter. I recently met him at Spacefest V in May this year and found him to be gracious and curious, despite his ailing health. As I knew he would, he impressed me greatly.
 
Obviously this may have been one of the last events he attended before his stroke.  This was a long standing dream to meet him as a link to the Original Seven and one of my earliest heroes.
 
Over the years I have found your site to be a wonderfully put together library and a touching tribute to Scott's life. As I am a STEM and Space Exploration outreach ambassador I have written a few articles which might be of interest to you relating to Spacefest V and Scott. RocketSTEM magazine has my account of Spacefest V including my meeting with Scott in its current issue.
 
Naturally coming so soon after that then hearing about his loss, I wanted to write a special tribute to him. My article at the Space Tweep Society is my way of saying thank you to him for his on-going inspiration, and to credit your wonderful site too. Paying it forward is the nature of volunteer outreach efforts and so I wanted to share this with you, his followers, friends and most of all his family. To let them know he was admired and loved the world over.
 
I hope his family one day will be able to appreciate the many tributes (including my own) that have been paid to Scott. He will be missed but his presence helped galvanize not only myself but many others to pursue our spaceflight dreams and the push to continue our adventurous reaches into space.
 
With kind regards,
 ~Amjad Z.


 

I've met Scott Carpenter on several occasions during my many visits to Kennedy Space Center, and a few times at events at other venues. One very special time was when I was at KSC for another Hall of Fame induction weekend in 2003. Besides Carpenter, other astronauts in attendance were Jim Lovell and Fred Haise of Apollo 13, and Moonwalkers Ed Mitchell and John Young. Mercury astronauts John Glenn and Gordon Cooper were also there. Meeting any astronaut is always exciting, but meeting one of the original 7 is really something. And I met three of the surviving four there that night, all in the same room. Wally Schirra did not attend that year. As we were being slowly ushered out of the room I asked Carpenter if he'd mind if I could get a photo with him and Gordon Cooper. At that time Glenn had already left the room. Carpenter was happy to, so I quickly asked Cooper the same. "Sure," he said in his slow southern drawl. So there I was, standing between two of the first seven American astronauts. Click. I've had my photo taken with a lot of astronauts, but this one is my absolute favorite.

Carpenter is probably the astronaut I have met the most. I met him at least enough to where he actually remembered me. On May 1, 2004 Carpenter was signing autographs at the Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex and while standing in line I overheard someone a few people ahead of me say that they thought it might be Carpenter's birthday. This person said nothing about it when they met him at his table. When I finally approached the table I said hello and shook his hand. While Carpenter was busy signing the photo I had brought I asked quietly if it's possible that today was his birthday. I'll never forget that moment. I could see the wide grin forming even before he raised his head. Through a big beautiful smile he said, "Yes. It is. I'm 79!" Everyone in line heard him and I'm sure that he got well wishes from the rest of them. I wished him a very happy birthday and asked if I could get my photo taken with him, to which he obliged. He asked me if I was from England. I told him I was from southeast Georgia, less than 4 hours north of KSC. He then asked me about myself and we talked about my trips to the space center. I again wished him a happy birthday and thanked him for taking the time to be there on his special day.

It must have been about a year to a year and a half later when I met Carpenter at the space center again. When I showed him the photo of us taken previously I asked if he remembered it. And he did - "That was on my birthday!" He couldn't remember which birthday, but he said he remembered talking to me then and that he remembered my accent. Now, over my years I've been asked more than a few times, and mainly by non-southerners, if I'm from England. I know Southernese has a lot of different dialects, so maybe that's what some people hear. Anyway, he remembered. We talked a little and he was happy to sign the photo of us taken on his birthday.

And speaking of birthdays, October 10 is my birthday. Until now, there was no one I knew of who had died on my birthday. With the passing of Scott Carpenter that is no longer the case. From now on, every birthday I have will remind me of him. But maybe that's not so bad. True, today was a sad day for many, including myself. But I suppose that when I go it might be nice to also go on a day that won't be forgotten by at least someone. It's good to be remembered.

If there is one thing that I will always remember about Scott Carpenter, it is his voice. Soft, assuring, almost melodic. He had one of those voices that you couldn't help but to love. You would love to just listen. And to think, this gentle man once braved the depths of oceans and strapped on a rocket and blasted into space at a time when no one really knew what would even happen. This gentle man did that? I feel quite privileged to live in a time when I can actually meet people like Scott Carpenter, the pioneers, the modern day Columbus' and Magellans, those with the right stuff. Carpenter once said, "Curiosity is a thread that goes through all of my activity. Satisfying curiosity ranks No. 2 in my book behind conquering a fear." Good words from a good man. Thank you, and Godspeed, Scott Carpenter

~RJ

   


My friend and I toured the Museum of Science and Industry in Chicago Weds Oct 08. First visit for me since the 1960's. Spent several minutes at Aurora 7. Feel very spirited I am able to remember the mission and now one of the final people to view the capsule before Mr Carpenter died.  G-Dspeed to a great astronaut and American. 

~Irwin S.


I am saddened to hear about Col. Carpenter's passing. My sincere condolences. The original seven Mercury astronauts were my first true heroes. Though the years, every time a documentary came on featuring them, I was there in front of the set, eager to hear about their exploits and what they've done in later years.

Scott Carpenter epitomized courage, tenacity, strength, intelligence and grace. He was a great gift to us.

~Martha Y.


The death of astronaut Scott Carpenter makes me very sad.
First, I would like to express my condolence to his family.
I had the great fortune to meet Scott in person twice. On October, 29th, 2005 and on June, 3rd, 2006, I met astronaut Scott Carpenter at" Autographica " in London. Both meetings will remain unforgettable for me, because Scott and I always had intensive conversations with each other. And we had become good friends in these two meetings. Scott was a special person and of course I was still hoping for further encounters with him.
Now he's gone and I want to remember to Scott with the photo of our meeting on June, 3rd, 2006.

Scott, you will always be in my heart and your kindness and warmth will remain unforgettable to me.

May you rest in peace, Scott. God bless you.

Your friend from Stuttgart in Germany,

~Helmut H.

 


Scott  was so funny.  He had come up for our event in 1984 had a green Mercedes.  He came himself and he said after the event he had to go home and mow the lawn to leave  for Hawaii on vacation.

~Mike C.



I met Scott years back at an shopping mall where he was signing autographs. It was so odd getting to meet a real astronaut.

~Annette P.


Nearly 20 years ago, I spent two wonderful hours with an old astronaut, Mr. Carpenter. I was a young news editor (and space geek) having a wonderful conversation with Mr. Carpenter about how we both missed the Russiansin the space race. He was waiting speak to a bunch of brainy kids getting awards at Great America in Gurnee, Ill. The management asked him and me if we'd like to ride the Batman ride in the
closed amusement park. Mr. Carpenter, with a broken
collarbone from a skiing accident and on the eve
of his 70th birthday, said, "Absolutely."

We took our seats on the ride, him in front of me. He kicked off his shoes just like he would have at a simulator in Houston. The ride took off. He was having a ball. Afterward, with an ear-to-ear grin, he said, "Now that was real!" He was a wonderfully human, earthy man. I wish we had more Americans
like him. He will be missed.

God speed, Mr. Carpenter!

~Ross W.


Sincere condolences to all Col. Carpenter’s family and friends. I had the great honour and privilege to meet him a couple of times at Autographica events here in the UK.
 
Scott was always kind, patient and attentive to all those wishing to meet him and secure his autograph. He was generous with his time talking with me about his Mercury mission and his amazing subsequent career; despite no doubt long hours manning his signing desk. A true pioneer and a real gentleman. He will be missed on this side of “the pond” too.
 
~Matthew S.
 

My condolences to the Carpenter family.  I'm so glad I was able to meet Scott at SpaceFest this year.

~Todd G.


I was born in 1960, and have followed the Mercury 7 astronauts since I was old enough to understand. To be honest, John and Scott were my favorites. :) I have been totally blind for over 15 years now, but have downloaded and read For Spacious Skies, and many other autobiographies of the former astronauts. I held Scott in a special place, probably because he was also an aquanaut. I also have had to deal with hydrophobia. I love how he attacked this phobia head on by becoming a diver. Being blind myself, I doubt if this would be a good idea for myself now. :)
 
Bill Taylor, who has worked at NASA for over 50 years, was supposed to get me a personalized photo from Scott for me. Sadly, that never happened. Bill owed me a favor, so I requested that from him when he offered. :) Sometimes we put things off too long, and then it's sadly too late. I'm very guilty of that myself. :)
 
Again, my sympathies are with Scott's family and friends. I wish I would have had the chance to know him personally. I'm sure I would have been the better for it.
 
God speed!!
~Curtis H.

I'd heard what a down-to-earth guy Scott was for years, from you and from others, and thoroughly enjoyed his book.  
 
I was particularly intrigued by his closeness to his grandfather.  With all the exceptionally hard work and hard times that helped for him, Scott was always particularly close to his grandfather and, after his grandfather passed, still was, apparently, so influenced by him.

I did get to meet Scott a a couple more times.  What intrigues me is that the Omega Watch appearance in Winston-Salem with Charlie Duke (Ed Buckbee was there, too) was the last time I saw him.  After chatting with him awhile, I watched closely when folks brought their grandchildren to meet him.

Scott instantly flipped from being the Steely Eyed Aviator to being a grampa.  He sweetly picked up each and every one of those kids, gave the parents as much time as they need to take photos, played peek a boo and other games with the little ones, and just was the gentlest, kindest, sweetest best grampa in the world. Made me wish I had grandbabies I could put in his lap, too!  
 
That's the image I keep in my mind of Scott Carpenter--the grampa who just could not get enough of those little children climbing all over him, looking at patches and things on his suit, sticking fingers in his ears...he was as much in his element there--or more--than in outer space or under the sea.
 
A remarkable, exceptional, delightful human being.  Who also happened to be an astronaut and aquanaut.

~Susan K.


My sincerest condolences on his passing. Though I only met him twice, once in 1961, at the Holiday Inn in Cocoa Beach, and years later, at his book signing on publication of “For Spacious Skies”, he was a hero to me, and, I’m sure many, many others. Thanks for his service. Rest in Peace!

Sincerely,

~James B


I was fortunate enough to meet Mr. Carpenter at KSC in the summer of 2006. As fellow scuba divers, we had much in common and I enjoyed our meeting tremendously.
~Beate C.


I became a teenager in 1960 and watched every Mercury, Gemini, and Apollo launch an every bit of ‘live’ telecast available in the Midwestern Plains.  We were fortunate that the nuns of our small Catholic school believed we HAD to witness history and permitted us to watch these events on their TV.  In 1961, I even skipped public school classes to watch at home.

We had it drilled into us by these nuns that space was our future and we held to that.

The “Original Seven” were our heroes, and, as we lose one we are all lessened.  I found out today that Astronaut Carpenter had passed and I am lessened by this loss.

True Americans are proud of the courage, patriotism, and accomplishments of the “Original Seven.”  RIP.

~Henry S.


You and your fellow astronauts are and will always be my heroes.  You inspired my generation with your dedication, perseverance and hard work to accomplish what many thought was an impossible dream of landing a man on the Moon. You and your fellow astronauts showed this country what truly means to be an American.

Rest in peace. and God Bless you!

~Ali S.
 


 

 

 

I met Scott Carpenter in Seabrook, Texas in February 1990. I had become friends with one of the Shuttle Flight Trainers at Johnson Space Center in Houston. He and his training team used to come see my band when we were in town. In turns out space people want to be rock musicians and rock musicians want to be space people. This guy’s dad (Bill Todd, Sr. – Dee, you may have known him) was best friends with Scott when the two of them were growing up in Boulder, CO. In fact, there’s a picture of the guy’s dad with Scott working on an old car in LIFE Magazine when LIFE was doing a story about Scott’s upcoming flight. Well, they remained lifelong friends with each other, including Bill, Jr., who was my newfound friend.

Bill used to invite me down to JSC on Wednesday nights, when I wasn’t on the road, to play his “victim” in the Space Shuttle simulator as he set up the next day’s “nits” & “malfs” for the crew he was currently training. I’ve got some great video footage of us in the trainer while I’m trying to fix bad things going on and Billy explaining to me why I’m getting ready to make a new and very expensive hole in the ground! On one such Wednesday, Bill asked me come a little early, around 3pm. Now, anyone who’s driven down I-45 South from downtown Houston at 3pm can tell you it’s slow going. I finally got to Billy’s house in Seabrook, a modest little neighborhood just across from JSC where many astronauts lived with their families during their mission training. I went to the back door as usual, Billy answered and said “Hey, go have a seat in the den and I’ll bring us some iced tea.” I walked into Billy’s den and there’s this short, gray haired guy sitting on the sofa. I looked at him and suddenly realized – hey! That’s Scott Carpenter! Having met a number of “famous” musicians in my life, I knew just how to act. I walked up to him, he stood up and he said “Hey, you’re Bruce Moody, aren’t you?!” He stole my line! I was dumbfounded!

I finally managed to say “I’ve been wanting to meet you since I was about 6 years old!” and he said “Thanks. You really know how to hurt a guy!” Immediately, he started asking me about my music, my band, the recording process and, of course, the wake-up song we were working on through Billy for STS-31. I couldn’t get a word in edgewise about “Mercury” or “Aurora 7”. Finally, it was time to head over to the space center to learn more about fuel cells and to also learn why it’s bad idea to come up short at the HAC when you’re lining up to land at KSC at the end of a Shuttle mission. The HAC is the Heading Alignment Cone, which is a big 300-degree turn that the shuttle makes to accomplish energy management (see = “slow down!”).

Over the years, Scott and I kept in touch sporadically, finally seeing each other in person at an autograph show in Washington DC in 2002 or 2003, I believe. But my favorite time with Scott was the long weekend in 2008 when the two of us went to visit Cece Bibby. Cece was the artist who painted the insignias on the spacecraft’s of John Glenn (Friendship 7), Scott Carpenter (Aurora 7) and Wally Schirra (Sigma 7). Cece was living in a very nice retirement community in Hiawassee, Georgia since recovering from her recent stroke. Scott and I had discussed the possibility of going to visit Cece at some point if his schedule ever brought him to the Carolinas area. Scott called me one afternoon to say that he and Charlie Duke were doing an Omega watch joint appearance the at the hotel in Winston-Salem, NC, not too far from me and “sort of” in the area close to Cece. This seemed like a nice window of opportunity to accomplish our visit to Cece.

After spending a week of so working out the details over the phone with Scott, it was decided that I’d pick Scott up at the Winston-Salem, NC hotel on a Saturday morning at 7am and then the two of us would drive to Cece’s place from there.

Now, Hiawassee, GA is in the mountains of Georgia, sort of tucked into the lower SW corner of North Carolina and NE corner of Georgia. The route is filled with a lot of those “you can’t get there from here” roads. No worries. I had an 8-page MapQuest printout (!) for our 5-hour drive and a list of questions memorized for my trapped guest of honor. As many of you know, it’s nearly impossible to get Scott to talk about himself, so we talked about his early recollections of Cece, Dee, the Cape and, of yes, the other “astronauts” as they were exclusively known at the time. I will tell you all here and now that when I asked him if Gordo Cooper was “the best pilot you ever saw”, Scott said “No, he wasn’t the best. Probably of the seven of us, it’d be a tie between Al and Gus for pure pilot instinct and skill. Amongst the rest of us, it was probably a tie.” Wow! That only took 18 years and 3 hours of winding mountain roads, but it was worth it!

The best part of the trip was just hanging out with Scott. He was so curious about learning. He really got into trying to identifying the different trees and flowers along the beautiful North Carolina mountain roads! When we first arrived at Cece’s place, she had told the staff that Mercury astronaut Scott Carpenter was coming. The center’s staff met us in the lobby and took us to a private dining room for a special lunch. Cece was overjoyed to see Scott and you could just sense the fondness the two had for each other. Luckily, with Cece’s stroke, her long-term memory wasn’t affected at all at that time and the two of them reminisced for a long time. It was a great time to be a fly on the wall and enjoy my strawberry shortcake at the same time! Cece reminded Scott about the pranks Gordon Cooper played on her, and the big one she played on him (something about carrot cake), and the time Alan Shepard “demanded” to drive her precious British race car and she turned him down. There was also the time Cece, having enough of being pushed around while she tried to get her work done on Scott’s spacecraft painted a big red “X” on Guenter Wendt’s white overalls, or as Cece told it imitating Guenter’s German accent, “ven he vas trying to get me off ze gantry in ze high vinds dat ver blowingk in from ze coast!” Why didn’t I record any of this?

But mostly, I will always remember Scott’s kindness to Cece and to the other people that he met over that weekend. We took Cece out for dinner that night and for lunch the next day before we left. During our time at the center, they were a lot of older folks who remembered Scott’s Mercury flight as well as that most interesting time in our nation’s history. I was very young at the time of Scott’s flight (7 years old), but I have a “sense” of what America was all about at that time and I realized that Carpenter was an Ambassador of that time to these people. He very patiently went through many of the questions, answers and stories he’d gone through thousands of times over the years for these people, just like it was the first time. He was an intriguing storyteller. He signed about 30 autographs. It just so happened that I brought along some photographs and Sharpies with me! When we left, Cece told me she now had “bragging rights” for the next year! It was the happiest I’d ever seen her and it was great watching these two old friends make time stand still for a few priceless hours.

I had to get Scott to the airport in Greensboro, NC the next day for a 4pm flight to Chicago, so after lunch with Cece, it was back in the car for our now 4 hour journey out of the mountains and on to Greensboro. I did ask him about going to the Moon and to Mars and he told me that, at the time of his and John’s flights, it was obvious we would get to the Moon and to Mars, but at the time he thought it might not happen until the mid-1980’s! When I asked who he would have liked to have gone to the Moon with, he said “Probably John or Gus”. When I asked him why, he said “Because I would have wanted to come back to Earth when we were done.” For what it’s worth!

Moments after dropping Scott off at the Greensboro airport, I phoned his daughter Kris in Colorado to let her know I’d safely delivered him there, that all was well and that his “sheen was still intact”, which she thought was hilarious.

Knowing Scott Carpenter was very easy. It was his kindness, his curiosity and his gentle nature that allowed him to interact with anyone and make them feel special. Those who came in contact with him instantly recognized that there was a rare gift of pure humanity in Malcolm Scott Carpenter.

After Scott lifted off on his last trip from Earth to the heavens on October 10, 2013, I was reminded of what Daniel Patrick Moynihan had once said about JFK after that terrible day in Dallas. “We will laugh again, it's just that we'll never be young again.”

~Bruce M.

         

 


My husband and I attended our first autograph show over 10 years ago and Scott Carpenter was one of the astronauts in attendance; it was a small venue and the lines were long.  By the time that I got up to him, I did not think that he would have time to say anything other than, "Who would you like this made out to?"  I was very surprised when he took the time to interact and ask me a question.  I was star struck and felt like a deer in the headlights, and was only able to squeak out a quick reply.  Of course, as soon as I left, I thought of a million things I should have said. 

Years later, I was seated next to him at a dinner.  Thankfully, unlike our first meeting, our conversation was easy and relaxed and I thoroughly enjoyed getting to know this incredible man.  Throughout the years, my husband and I routinely saw him at the AHOFinductions and at the AAMS events.  He always greeted us warmly and being able to interact with him was always special.  This particular picture was taken at the Mercury 50th Anniversary event. 

He was a true hero and was also one of the nicest people that you could meet.  We were so fortunate to have had the opportunity to meet him and will always cherish our interactions and conversations.

God Speed, Scott Carpenter.  We will miss you. 

~Mary M.


In common with many children of the 1950’s, I had memorized the names of the Mercury 7 astronauts and their spacecraft and even knew how many orbits they flew. In 1966 I began a friendship with a NASA astronomer depicted in Scott Carpenter’s memoir, For Spacious Skies: Jocelyn Ruth Gill, PhD (1916–84), chief of in-flight sciences for the early manned spaceflight program. She knew all of the Mercury astronauts but told me of her special relationship to Commander Carpenter because of his exceptional interest in exploiting the manned missions for scientific purposes. In fact, in 1962 National Geographic published an article on an airborne solar eclipse expedition which included among its scientific crew both Dr. Gill and Commander Carpenter. Remembering Gill’s compliments about Scott Carpenter’s scientific acumen, many years later I sent a query to this website asking if he would contribute a foreword about the value of celestial navigation for a book on the history of maritime navigation. To my delight, he promptly replied in the affirmative and we arranged a telephone interview. The discussion touched on his recollections about Gill and about flying Navy patrol missions over the Pacific decades ago. He greatly valued his skill at navigation—which, as he pointed out, once learned, remained a skill for life—but he impressed me with his self-effacing attitude towards his own early ignorance and overconfidence in navigating aircraft. He was once so confident in his own abilities, he recalled, that on patrol he got lost because he left his aircraft sextant behind. With only endless sea below, he had to fly a search pattern for hours to locate Guam. He was generous in entertaining my questions and provided a foreword that was insightful, useful, stimulated interest in navigation, and showed humor. From my admiration of him a half century ago to his contribution of a foreword to my book, I have followed his enviable, full career and am privileged to have spoken with him about a subject of which he was passionate.

~ Dr. Robert H.


 

 

I NEVER MET SCOTT CARPENTER

 

I never met Scott Carpenter, but a piece of his Aurora 7 heat shield

Rests proudly on my desk.

I never met Scott Carpenter, the Mercury astronaut,

But I did meet all the rest.

Al Shepard, Deke Slayton, Gus Grissom,

Wally Schirra, Gordon Cooper. John Glenn.

Scott Carpenter was a member of this band;

A great man among great men.

Heat shield from “Aurora Seven”

Mercury Atlas-7   M. SCOTT CARPENTER

MAY 24, 1962

 

 Reads the engraved metal plate on the oaken base

Holding the cubic inch of charred heat shield

That protected Mercury astronauts from the incomprehensible

Heat generated during reentry into Earth’s atmosphere.

While traversing this perilous passage,

Scott Carpenter’s back was only inches away from the heat,

But he had little time to think about heat shield;

He had been through a very busy day,

And it was not over yet!

 

Aurora 7 had been planned as a science flight.

He had experiments to run; observations to make;

Some during the daytime, some during the night.

He photographed the Earth from high above;

Found it hard to change film while wearing a space glove.

He watched liquids in crystal clear glass spheres

As they danced through space in weightless flight.

Looked for the fireworks near Woomera,

But the Australian clouds blocked his sight.

He released the multi-color mylar balloon,

But it did not fully inflate.

Only two of the five colors showed,

And in the end, it did not pull its weight!

 

 He was the first to eat solid space food;

Tasted Good; but the crumbs drifted away.

Described the beauty of “Airglow”

As it signaled the end of the day.

Watched the flattened Sun at its setting;

Caught it on film as it disappeared.

Flew the spacecraft by the light of the Moon;

Was impressed by how easily it steered.

Tracked a star in the Big Dipper,

And with sunrise, John Glenn’s “Fire Flies came.

He described them as more like snowflakes,

And “Frost Flies” became their new name.

 

With only one orbit left to go,

Flight notified him fuel consumption was a concern.

He took his foot off the gas,

Coasted all way ‘round the Earth;

Got to reentry with plenty to burn!

At retrofire, the spacecraft heat shield

Began to really earn its pay,

And it was most successful;

That’s why we have this small piece today!

But not everything was going as well;

Scott Carpenter had problems to face.

 

When the Pitch Horizon Sensor again malfunctioned,

Scott Carpenter took control of the flight.

But the PHS failure pulled him

170 miles off course to the right.

Then he had to punch three retrofire pulses

To bring the spacecraft safely home.

But with malfunctions and slow firing retros,

He was 250 miles from the planned landing zone.

Ships, planes, and choppers

All headed out to find the lost man.

Forty minutes later, he was spotted by aircraft;

In a raft, next to his spacecraft, treading water,

Relaxed and workin’ on a tan!

 

Scott Carpenter never flew again in space.

He took leave from NASA and headed straight for the sea.

There he trained in the Navy SEALAB program

And appeared happy as happy could be!

Soon opportunity came and knocked on his door,

And he spent a month off the California coast

Living and working on the ocean floor.

 

Scott Carpenter sailed boldly

Into This New Ocean of space.

Then he returned to Earth and dived

To the depths of her old oceans.

 

Astronaut—Aquanaut

One of a kind

A most unique individual

A man for all time!

 

On my desk, the heat shield from Aurora 7

Anchors a row that holds two other pieces of heat shield.

Next to Aurora 7 stands heat shield from Gemini VIII

Launched March 16, 1966 and flown by Neil Armstrong and David Scott.

I did meet both of them.

At the end of the row is heat shield from AS-503,

An unmanned flight test of the Apollo Saturn system.

The identification plate holds my name.

It was presented to me in February 1967

When I traveled to the heat shield manufacturing plant

To thank them for the good work they were doing

In support of the NASA lunar landing missions.

The gift was a most pleasant surprise!

These three small treasures from Mercury, Gemini, and Apollo

Have been in my possession for nearly 50 years,

And thousands have viewed, questioned, and touched.

The collection has been shared,

And I have guarded them well.

   

On October 10, 2013, Scott Carpenter passed away.

When I heard the announcement of his death,

I sat at my desk and spent time with his heat shield.

These words I now share with you

Began to take form in my mind.

In the following weeks as I reviewed his life and career,

A feeling emerged within me.

Although his body had been laid to rest,

I felt Scott Carpenter’s spirit was very much alive;

It surrounds us!

On land, in the oceans, in the air, in space;

All environs in which he performed at the highest level,

His spirit touches others as they seek to reach and extend.

I feel this is the mission of Scott Carpenter’s undying spirit.

 

I still regret never meeting Scott Carpenter;

However, I do believe I am coming to know his spirit.

This feeling brings me comfort and great hope.

 

In closing, I borrow a word from Scott Carpenter;

A word he spoke as Capcom on the flight of John Glenn.

 

“Godspeed”

Scott Carpenter

May your mission never end.

 

Robert M. Jones

April 2014

 

 

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