Scott Carpenter died Thursday at the age of 88 in a Denver, Colorado, hospice. Carpenter’s wife Patty confirmed his death to Fox News this afternoon and said that he had recently suffered a stroke.
1. He Was Chosen to Be an Astronaut in 1959
After High School Carpenter was accepted into a Navy aviation training program hoping to enter World War II. When the war ended before he was able to be deployed, Carpenter studied aeronautical engineering at the University of Colorado at Boulder.
From 1949 to 1958, Carpenter served in the Navy in Korea, became a test pilot, and became an Air Intelligence Officer. In 1959 he was invited to join Project Mercury at NASA and served as John Glenn’s backup pilot.
2. On May 24, 1962 He Circled the Earth Three Times
In his one and only mission into space, Carpenter spent 4 hours and 56 minutes in space as he circled around the earth three times.
His pod, Aurora 7 splashed down into the water off of Puerto Rico and took hours to find. After he was retrieved he was hailed as a hero, receiving parades and honors in Denver, Boulder, and New York City. He and his family were even invited to meet John F. Kennedy at the White House.
3. He Said the Famous Line: ‘Godspeed, John Glenn’
On February 20, 1962, John Glenn became the first American in space. As he was preparing to take off, Carpenter uttered the now immortalized line, “God Speed, John Glenn.” Listen to the quote and see the launch and its preparations above.
4. He Lived Underwater for a Month
According to the New York Times, Carpenter was also the only astronaut to ever become an aquanaut. In summer 1965, as part of the “Sealab Project,” Carpenter lived and worked on the ocean floor at a depth of 205 feet for over a month.
After a motorcycle accident in 1967, and injuries sustained during diving, Carpenter could no longer go to space or the ocean floor. He officially retired from the Navy in 1969.
5. He’s Written a Number of Books
Since his time in the space program, Carpenter has written and co-written a number of books about his experience and the early days of NASA. These books include, For Spacious Skies and We Seven: By the Astronauts Themselves.