Remembering Colorado Astronaut Scott Carpenter
Colorado-born astronaut Scott Carpenter died Thursday at the age of 88. According to his wife, Patty, he had suffered a stroke and entered a Denver hospice. The couple, with 9 children and six grand children, have been living in Vail. Carpenter did what a lot of little boys like me dreamed of doing -but few ever accomplish – being an astronaut. He only made one trip into outer space, but it was memorable for two reasons.
The most significant fact concerning Carpenter’s space adventure, was that he was just the second man, after John Glenn, to orbit the earth, and just the fourth man in outer space.
His flight is best remembered for a 250-mile overshoot on the splashdown, which left him drifting in the ocean for nearly 3 hours before being picked up by a helicopter.After leaving the space program, Carpenter became an aquanaut for the U.S. Navy, and spent many years involved in deep sea exploration working with Jacques Cousteau. Through the years he continued to be an advocate and consultant for ocean and space exploration.
One regret Scott Carpenter mentions on his website is that he never landed on the moon.
“I had flown in space, achieving a goal I’d had since I learned about Project Mercury in 1959. Sealab at the time was a more attractive opportunity for me. It was a new challenge.
After a while, restored by the underwater work, I tried to regain my flight status. I thought a lunar landing would be a rewarding challenge. But the operation to repair the injury to my left arm did not succeed. I was medically grounded. I couldn’t have a Gemini or Apollo flight, even if I wanted one.”
I have great admiration and appreciation for men like Scott Carpenter, a pioneer of space and ocean exploration. He was passionate about what he did and what he believed in. Carpenter was able to experience things that very few and women will ever experience, and as a native Coloradoan I’m proud to call him one of our own.