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Mercury Astronaut Scott Carpenter Dies At 88

timothy posted about 6 months ago | from the above-below-and-beyond dept.

NASA 81

schwit1 writes "M. Scott Carpenter, whose flight into space in 1962 as the second American to orbit the Earth was marred by technical glitches and ended with the nation waiting anxiously to see if he had survived a landing far from the target site, died on Thursday in Denver. He was 88 and one of the last two surviving astronauts of America's original space program, Project Mercury." NASA has a nice biography of Carpenter, too, and scottcarpenter.com has much more besides.

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81 comments

Don't forget SEALAB! (2)

Major Blud (789630) | about 6 months ago | (#45096231)

Re:Don't forget SEALAB! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#45096715)

...mailbox head

Re:Don't forget SEALAB! (1)

kLimePie (3031053) | about 6 months ago | (#45097275)

This is noted in the official NASA biography [nasa.gov] :

Scott Carpenter, a dynamic pioneer of modern exploration, has the unique distinction of being the first human ever to penetrate both inner and outer space, thereby acquiring the dual title, Astronaut/Aquanaut.

Before I did a quick Wiki lookup on the word aquanaut [wikipedia.org] , I thought he was the first astronaut who knew how to swim. Apparently you need to dive deeper and longer to qualify for the distinction of being an aquanaut, just as you need to fly up a certain number of km's to be considered an astronaut.

On a side note, it appears that certain NASA web sites are still operational despite the US government shutdown of non-essential facilities.

Run-on sentence summary (4, Funny)

omnichad (1198475) | about 6 months ago | (#45096303)

The run-on sentence in the summary makes it hard not to read it like he's been missing since 1962 and just now found.

Re:Run-on sentence summary (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#45096347)

The run-on sentence in the summary makes it hard not to read it like he's been missing since 1962 and just now found.

What you are noticing is the low levels of education and
intelligence on the part of all the Slashdot editors.

This used to be a good website, but now it is a pathetic joke.

Re:Run-on sentence summary (3, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#45096421)

What you are noticing is the low levels of education and intelligence on the part of all the Slashdot editors.

That run-on summary was plagiarized directly from the New York Times article. Blame Richard Goldstein for it's creation. Slashdot only falsely attributes it to "An anonymous reader". Which is very unprofessional, but at least they didn't create or edit it.

Re:Run-on sentence summary (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#45096527)

You probably shouldn't blame Richard Goldstein, because that's not a run-on sentence.

Re:Run-on sentence summary (3, Insightful)

bigwheel (2238516) | about 6 months ago | (#45096765)

"What you are noticing is the low levels of education and intelligence on the part of all the Slashdot editors."

What we are noticing is the laziness of some ACs, who criticize the wording of the summary without even reading the first sentence of TFA.

Odd as it may seem, some of us read /. for the content, and can overlook a few grammatical errors.

Re:Run-on sentence summary (1)

KiloByte (825081) | about 6 months ago | (#45096653)

What you are noticing is the low levels of education and intelligence on the part of all the Slashdot editors.

This used to be a good website, but now it is a pathetic joke.

You should take a look then how the competition regressed. Slashdot, with its flaws, slowly becomes the only readable tech news website left (all others need at least filtering). Editors don't do their job, yeah, but comments from the community fix their errors immediately.

And as "everything used to be better in the past", that's nothing new, just browse some writings of Roman authors. But then, even nostalgia isn't what it used to be.

Re:Run-on sentence summary (1)

Longjmp (632577) | about 6 months ago | (#45096821)

And as "everything used to be better in the past", that's nothing new, just browse some writings of Roman authors. But then, even nostalgia isn't what it used to be.

Everything was better in the past, even the future!

Re:Run-on sentence summary (1)

BancBoy (578080) | about 6 months ago | (#45097053)

But then, even nostalgia isn't what it used to be.

That's not the way I remember it...

Re:Run-on sentence summary (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#45096533)

Just where does the word "missing" come into play? The structure, while unusually long, doesn't meet the definition of a run-on since it is not comprised of two or more independent clauses. It does use a rather long dependent clause [wikipedia.org] . I'm not saying that being wordy is the best way to construct a sentence. I'm just saying it isn't incorrect.

Who was the second guy on the moon? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#45096309)

I forget.

Re:Who was the second guy on the moon? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#45096349)

Well I certainly wasn't the second guy in yo momma!

Number two (1)

justthinkit (954982) | about 6 months ago | (#45096467)

Buzz. Time's up!

Buzz Aldrin wasn't one of the original seven... (1)

Ellis D. Tripp (755736) | about 6 months ago | (#45101269)

Buzz wasn't selected until 1963, as part of the 3rd group of astronauts.

The last survivor of the original 7 is John Glenn...

Re:Buzz Aldrin wasn't one of the original seven... (1)

justthinkit (954982) | about 6 months ago | (#45105099)

The question I answered was in the subject line of my parent poster -- "Who was the second guy on the moon?"

Re:Who was the second guy on the moon? (1)

Longjmp (632577) | about 6 months ago | (#45096875)

Louis Armstrong! He even wrote a song about it.

(I think I'm really bored today)

Who's left besides John Glenn? (1)

Animats (122034) | about 6 months ago | (#45096361)

Glenn is still alive. Who's the other one?

Re:Who's left besides John Glenn? (4, Informative)

Antipater (2053064) | about 6 months ago | (#45096401)

Nobody. The summary is wrong; Glenn is the last.

Re:Who's left besides John Glenn? (4, Informative)

The Grim Reefer (1162755) | about 6 months ago | (#45096651)

He was 88 and one of the last two surviving astronauts of America's original space program

The summary was correct, just poorly written. He was one of the two surviving.

Re:Who's left besides John Glenn? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#45097721)

He was 88 and one of the last two surviving astronauts of America's original space program

The summary was correct, just poorly written. He was one of the two surviving.

That part of the sentence is fine. "He was 88." and "He was one of the last two surviving astronauts..."

Re:Who's left besides John Glenn? (2)

Animats (122034) | about 6 months ago | (#45096411)

Misread the article. It's just Glenn now, the last of the Original Seven human astronauts.

Re:Who's left besides John Glenn? (1)

The Grim Reefer (1162755) | about 6 months ago | (#45096557)

Misread the article. It's just Glenn now, the last of the Original Seven American astronauts.

FTFY

Re:Who's left besides John Glenn? (1)

CohibaVancouver (864662) | about 6 months ago | (#45096627)

It's just Glenn now, the last of the Original Seven American astronauts.

"American" is redundant. "Astronaut" implies American. The other men in space in the sixties were "Cosmonauts."

Re:Who's left besides John Glenn? (1)

camperdave (969942) | about 6 months ago | (#45096717)

The other men in space in the sixties were "Cosmonauts."

Perhaps, but were they friends?

Re:Who's left besides John Glenn? (2)

BancBoy (578080) | about 6 months ago | (#45097073)

Thank you! You are truly a friend and a cosmonaut!

Re:Who's left besides John Glenn? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#45100181)

OT - Love your sig! Took me a second, then I grinned. Well done!

Re:Who's left besides John Glenn? (1)

The Grim Reefer (1162755) | about 6 months ago | (#45097065)

It's just Glenn now, the last of the Original Seven American astronauts.

"American" is redundant. "Astronaut" implies American. The other men in space in the sixties were "Cosmonauts."

"Human" is also redundant. I don't recall the monkey being referred to as an astronaut either.

Re:Who's left besides John Glenn? (1)

_merlin (160982) | about 6 months ago | (#45097993)

At the risk of being modded off-topic, nick nick you've got there.

Re:Who's left besides John Glenn? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#45100133)

"The Grin Reefer" would have been more clever.

Re:Who's left besides John Glenn? (2)

CohibaVancouver (864662) | about 6 months ago | (#45097399)

The other men in space in the sixties were "Cosmonauts."

oops...That should have read The other men AND WOMAN in space in the sixties were "Cosmonauts."

Re:Who's left besides John Glenn? (1)

wonkey_monkey (2592601) | about 6 months ago | (#45099511)

"Astronaut" implies American.

No, it implies (and probably not exclusively) that they come from an English-speaking nation. There are Canadian astronauts and British astronauts.

Re:Who's left besides John Glenn? (1)

CohibaVancouver (864662) | about 6 months ago | (#45100537)

No, it implies (and probably not exclusively) that they come from an English-speaking nation. There are Canadian astronauts and British astronauts.

In the sixties (context of this thread and article) there were no English-speaking space explorers who weren't American. So "Astronaut" remains correct.

Re:Who's left besides John Glenn? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#45096639)

Misread the article. It's just Glenn now, the last of the Original Seven American astronauts.

FTFY

Soviet spacemen were known as "confidants" rather than "astronauts".

A sad day (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#45096369)

Your famous landing on Mercury will never be forgotten, Mr. Carpenter.

Re:A sad day (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#45097461)

I hope where he is going isn't quite as hot as where he came from. So is Mrs. Carpenter, who is from Venus, why Venus is further away from the sun but yet still manages to be hotter?

Man that joke really hot-footed it away from me.

So is the correct way to say Uranus "not mine!" or was my Astronomy teacher a hippy?

if you shit or piss on the moon (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#45096379)

does it remain there?

Re:if you shit or piss on the moon (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#45096529)

I'm going to guess it boils away on the sunny side, and freezes then sublimates on the dark side. If it remains solid on the dark side without sublimating, it will melt and then boil away when the Sun rises because there is no dark side of the Moon. As a matter of fact, it's all dark. No, wait, I mean it rotates so it has Sunrise and Sunset. Once the shit is vaporized, it goes into space because the Moon can't hold an atmosphere.

Re:if you shit or piss on the moon (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#45097427)

Our moons rotation and revolution are locked such that any given visible point remains visible always. It's the slow, subtle effect of gravity at play: the point of any rotating sphere that's closest to a large mass has the most force pulling it towards that mass -- effectively a "friction" that slowed our moons relative rotation to the point that it appears like an unchanging 2D sprite and not the complex body that it is. Is there a term for that "gravity friction"?

But when you consider its revolution, yeah, the sun rises and sets with the moon at (probably every point? worried about polls..) the same rate as every new moon as viewed from Earth. So slower days/nights, and since there is no atmosphere, both day and night should be of equal length and occur very suddenly (arc length of sun rather than rays being lensed by the atmosphere, which has a refraction index -- not the gravitational bending of light that can also occur but not to a degree that's noticeable on a body as small as Earth).

Wow there's a lot of Physics there. So why exactly can't the moon have an atmosphere? Will all gaseous particles always have sufficient energy to, through eventual Brownian motion, acquire a sufficient direction and momentum to be an escape trajectory?

Re:if you shit or piss on the moon (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#45098423)

Is there a term for that "gravity friction"?

Yeah its called tidal friction or something like that....I believe the process that induced tidal lock on the moon wrt the earth is slowly decreasing the earths rate of rotation wrt the moon because the moon-generated ocean tides literally drag upon the earth to slow it down, by like 2 seconds a century or some such miniscule amount, but it is really happening iirc

any errors feel free to correct me...i was once a physicist...once...

Re:if you shit or piss on the moon (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#45098207)

I imagine a turd would just freeze-dry in place and pretty much sit there forever. Direct sunlight would cause it to break down eventually.

TIL we landed on mercury (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#45096503)

I'm really sad that this great american has died because of this stupid recession. I wonder how old he was when he landed on mercury because the radiation must have really been there all over that place. But maybe he took so long to die because the radiation cured any cancer he was going to have or I bet he ate lots of fruit. My mom always shops at Scotts and they have really good fruit, but I didn't think they had mercury, I thought that was just fish. I wonder if he was ever in the space capsule with Tom Hanks that one time it really wasn't fair that they didn't get to go a second time although. Does anybody else have a hard time remembering that TIL is today I learned?? Public service announcement that is what it means in case you did not know. I wonder if this guy Scott is really dead or if he just went on vacation and didn't tell people. I hope this was helpful to you all!

Re:TIL we landed on mercury (1)

Deadstick (535032) | about 6 months ago | (#45097451)

Welcome to Colorado.

Re:TIL we landed on mercury (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#45104359)

Thanks for making me look at the AC GP's idiotic comment. Are all these people redundantly making the same stupid joke or do they really think the Mercury program sent astronauts to Mercury?

Dude, please stop feeding the trolls.

Another of my heroes gone :( (2)

p51d007 (656414) | about 6 months ago | (#45096603)

And now there is only one left. Growing up in the early 60's, every kid wanted to be an astronaut. I just wish I still have my GI-Joe Friendship 7 space capsule, box & record...they are worth a bunch now LOL. God speed Scott Carpenter!

Let me guess... (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#45096611)

Let me guess... He died of Mercury poisoning?

When We Left Earth (5, Interesting)

DCstewieG (824956) | about 6 months ago | (#45096619)

If you have Netflix streaming (or want to go through some hassle), check out When We Left Earth: The NASA Missions [netflix.com] . Absolutely fantastic documentary on the space race and the way I recently learned about his landing. For reasons outside my control, I was not alive until many years later.

I totally get the conspiracy theories about a fake moon landing. I know we did it. But looking up at the moon, it's hard to believe it.

Re:When We Left Earth (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#45096779)

The best documentary on the space race is Space Race:The Untold Story [imdb.com] , but after airing a couple of times on the National Geographic channel, it was basically banned in the U.S. (since it dared to show the USSR side of the story, which is all-but-illegal in the "Land of the Free").

Re:When We Left Earth (2)

Stormwatch (703920) | about 6 months ago | (#45096897)

It's hard to believe that men went to the moon because they don't go anymore. It's hard to believe that such knowledge, such infrastructure, such willingness to fund science, existed just a few decades ago and is now gone.

Re:When We Left Earth (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#45096999)

Oh man, that's naive. Funding science had nothing to do with going to the moon. It had everything to do with beating those darn commie Russkies. I can guarantee you, without the Cold War, we'd still be wondering when some one would ever go to the moon.

Re:When We Left Earth (1)

CohibaVancouver (864662) | about 6 months ago | (#45097973)

Funding science had nothing to do with going to the moon. It had everything to do with beating those darn commie Russkies.

Sure there was some of that, but there was also very much a 'we can do anything attitude' back then that seems to be mostly gone, other than in niches like iPad development. China is surging ahead of the USA and there isn't any national drive to beat them at anything...

Re:When We Left Earth (1)

R3d M3rcury (871886) | about 6 months ago | (#45098029)

Sure there was some of that [...]

No, it was entirely that [theatlantic.com] . What can we do in space to beat the Russians?

Re:When We Left Earth (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#45101497)

Yes, unfortunately we're mostly monkeys throwing rocks, sticks, and feces at our rivals... I got mine, bro, ain' no way you're takin' it away.

Re:When We Left Earth (1)

CRCulver (715279) | about 6 months ago | (#45097573)

Besides the other poster's point about the Space Race being more about beating the Russkies than love of science, retreating from human spaceflight is a prudent decision anyway. Let's focus on research here on Earth to boost computing power and innovate new materials. Then, after the Singularity, we can send our machine descendents to explore the cosmos instead of human beings that require a whole biosphere to be sent with them.

Re:When We Left Earth (2)

mschuyler (197441) | about 6 months ago | (#45097707)

Sure we could, but if you use that attitude about everything, nothing would ever get done unless it passed some bureaucrat's idea of "practical and prudent."

Besides, that's just a fucking boring attitude.

Re:When We Left Earth (1)

khallow (566160) | about 6 months ago | (#45100751)

Then, after the Singularity, we can send our machine descendents to explore the cosmos instead of human beings that require a whole biosphere to be sent with them.

Assuming we're still around to act in any sort of capacity.

Re:When We Left Earth (1)

AmiMoJo (196126) | about 6 months ago | (#45100009)

It's hard to believe they could have faked it. Other countries were monitoring the radio communications from the CM and LMs, and would have said something if they didn't appear to be coming from the moon. The USSR in particular had no reason to cover up for the Americans.

Say they sent unmanned missions instead then. We know they got to the surface because the intact remains can be seen on photos taken by other countries who, again, have no reason to lie. Even so, deploying certain experiments like the retro reflectors would have been tricky. Not impossible, but far from trivial. Keeping the development of such technology secret would be been almost impossible.

Long story short, it is really hard to see how it could have been faked even if they had wanted to. At the time sending humans to do all that stuff would have been easier.

Re:When We Left Earth (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#45101759)

I have seen shuttles on four occasions. Oddly it was Discovery each time. I saw the launch after the Challenger loss. I saw Discovery on the pad while loaded with Hubble (launch delayed, so I missed the actual launch). I saw Discovery being carried by a 747 on the way to the Smithsonian, and I saw Discovery at the Smithsonian (okay, it's not that surprising that the last two are the same vehicle). Sadly, I never saw a landing.

When I saw Discovery at the Smithsonian at arm's reach, I realized that the whole thing was a scam. It was a very sophisticated scam, but it was a scam all the same. There is [i]no way[/i] that NASA - or anybody else - accelerated that huge mass to LEO. It's just not possible. Vanguard I, maybe. But something the size of the Space Shuttle is just not believable.

But they did. Many times.

Huh (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#45096937)

I didn't know Mercury had a space program, let alone life. Good for them.

He flew into space in a beetle-sized capsule (5, Insightful)

WillAffleckUW (858324) | about 6 months ago | (#45097341)

Basically, this guy flew into space in something the size of a VW Beetle.

Think about that.

No guts.

No glory.

He had both.

Re:He flew into space in a beetle-sized capsule (1)

ColdWetDog (752185) | about 6 months ago | (#45098051)

And with less computational power than the digital display on an FM radio in a Beetle.

Think about that.

Re:He flew into space in a beetle-sized capsule (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#45101681)

I thought about it, but insect analogies don't make much sense to me. Could you rephrase that using a car analogy?

Re:He flew into space in a beetle-sized capsule (1)

demonlapin (527802) | about 6 months ago | (#45098201)

There's nothing particularly remarkable about flying into space in a small capsule.

What's impressive is that he did it while that capsule was strapped to the top of a not-especially-reliable missile.

Re:He flew into space in a beetle-sized capsule (1)

khallow (566160) | about 6 months ago | (#45100769)

What's impressive is that he did it while that capsule was strapped to the top of a not-especially-reliable missile.

Ok, why is that more remarkable than flying into space? It just means a greater tolerance for risk. Base jumpers and people who climb Mount Everest have that too.

Re:He flew into space in a beetle-sized capsule (1)

root_42 (103434) | about 6 months ago | (#45100119)

Is it really the size of a VW beetle? At Kennedy Space Center they have a mockup, which I think is accurately sized. Including a seat, in which you can sit. I didn't fit, because, I was too tall -- at 1.80m! That thing was tiny. Really tiny!

Re:He flew into space in a beetle-sized capsule (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#45100985)

Maybe overall size, but the crew compartment was definitely smaller than the inside of a Beetle. Better not to go into how it is I know so much about the kind of manuvering room there was in the original Beetles.

Re:He flew into space in a beetle-sized capsule (1)

WillAffleckUW (858324) | about 6 months ago | (#45103411)

Exactly - the capsule is the size of a VW Beetle - but has less legroom than the old one.

I was born in the year he went to space. (2)

Ralph Ostrander (2846785) | about 6 months ago | (#45097539)

It is a sad reminder to me how sands of time remain in my own hour glass. I am entering the stage where it seems everyone I looked up to or work/arts I enjoyed has passed.

When I pay taxes (1)

speedlaw (878924) | about 6 months ago | (#45098085)

I always hope I bought a bolt on the international space station.....but I'm afraid I paid a millionaire agribusiness not to grow food. Sometimes, in and amongst all the nonsense, waste and cynicism, something good happens. Thank you Scott, for showing us what CAN happen.

So now its down to John Glenn (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#45098277)

John Glenn was one of the first, and the post Redstone Mercury team (pre Apollo) lost Alan Shepherd in 1998, Gus Grissom died on the pad in '67, Gordon Cooper in 2004, and Wally Schirra in 2007. Apart from Carpenter (who died today) and Ham and Enos (monkeys who died in '83 and '62), John Glenn is still here (92 years old). One last of the original space pioneers left. And to M. Scott Carpenter and his family: we salute you.

Spam (1)

capt_mulch (642870) | about 6 months ago | (#45098599)

Spam in a can! I had to make that joke. This guy was a serious legend for me - it was one of those names I memorized as a space geeky ten year old in the early seventies. Vale sir.

Scott Carpenter Park (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#45098769)

I think I'm going to go leave flowers there tomorrow.

Saw Glenn and then him in NYC parade (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#45100953)

Glenn's is a better memory, was small enough to watch from my Dad's shoulders. President Kennedy was in the same car with Glenn. My memory of Carpenter is fuzzier (those and hearing the annoucement about Kennedy's assassination over the my school's intercom system are my most vivid memories of those years). Exciting times, even for a 5 year-old. I remember when Carpenter turned to oceanography and participated in Sea Lab. Just as dangerous (check out the history of the Sea Lab series), and just as promising. In both cases the U.S. surged ahead of all rivals but then seemed to lose interest. That's what you get when you rely on the military to drive exploration programs. Unfortunately once the moon landing was accomplished NASA lost most of its special funding to the DoD. Guess we really needed to be able to destroy the entire planet 30x over more than expanding our presence out into the solar system.

Well... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#45101361)

Apparently that landing was ultimately fatal to him.

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