DENVER — Scott Carpenter, the second American to orbit the Earth, was guided by two instincts: overcoming fear and quenching his insatiable curiosity. He pioneered his way into the heights of space and the depths of the ocean floor.
His wife, Patty Barrett, said Carpenter died Thursday in a Denver hospice of complications from a September stroke.
Carpenter followed John Glenn into orbit, and it was Carpenter who gave him the historic sendoff: “Godspeed, John Glenn.” The two were the last survivors of the famed original Mercury 7 astronauts from the “Right Stuff” days of the early 1960s. Glenn is the only one left alive.
In his one flight, Carpenter missed his landing by 288 miles, leaving a nation on edge for an hour as it watched live and putting Carpenter on the outs with his NASA bosses. So Carpenter found a new place to explore: the ocean floor.
He was the only person who was both an astronaut and an aquanaut, exploring the ocean.
NASA Administrator Charles Bolden said Carpenter “was in the vanguard of our space program — the pioneers who set the tone for our nation’s pioneering efforts beyond Earth and accomplished so much for our nation. ... We will miss his passion, his talent and his lifelong commitment to exploration.”
Life was an adventure for Carpenter, and he said it should be for others: “Every child has got to seek his own destiny. ... I have had a great time seeking my own.”