Up. Up and away
Scott Carpenter passed away yesterday, one of the original Mercury 7, and the second American to orbit the earth after John Glenn.
His spacecraft, Aurora 7, reached an altitude of 164 miles from the surface of our big blue marble on May 24th 1962.
That was 51 years ago, which is incredible to think about. It's one of those fantastic things that happened before I was even born, that still staggers me.
That human beings blasted off from this rock in metal tubes designed by men using slide rules and computers that filled huge rooms but had 1/100th the computational power and probably 1/1000 the speed of my cell phone, and then floated around the earth in tiny little capsules (I've seen a Mercury capsule up close and personal - the Ford Festiva is way roomier) is just beyond the keen.
Scott Carpenter lived in Denver, and passed away in a hospital less than 15 miles from my house. He was 88 years old and had not only orbited the planet and got that amazing view of earth as a pebble floating in space that only 538 other human beings have ever seen, he also spent 28 days living on the ocean floor as an Aquanaut for the U.S. Navy's SEALAB project (yes, that was real, not a television show).
Talk about your life well lived, his life should be the dictionary definition.
I cannot state that Commander Scott Carpenter was a childhood hero of mine - I was not intrigued by space exploration when I was young, and truth be told, am really not now. However, some years ago when I had first moved to the Denver area, I read a biographical sketch of his life and was stunned by the sheer number of his accomplishments.
He certainly has earned a spot in the Pantheon of all time great adventurers. Almost 5 hours in space in a rocketship built by the lowest bidder. Now that takes brass.