American Astronaut Scott Carpenter, 1925 - 2013

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Oct. 10 2013 4:30 PM

Scott Carpenter, 1925 - 2013

Scott Carpenter
Scott Carpenter, American astronaut, inspects his Mercury 7 capsule before launch in 1962.

Photo by NASA

I am very sad to write that American astronaut Scott Carpenter died today. He was 88 years old.

You can read about his accomplishments on Collect Space and wikipedia; I won't belabor his detailed and lengthy record here. He was the fourth American astronaut to fly into space, and only the second to achieve orbit. He was one of a generation of such heroes.

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He was also a Boulder, Colorado native. My wife and I had the pleasure of meeting Carpenter earlier this year at SpaceFest; we chatted about our hometown and found him to be a personable, pleasant man. There's a park here in town named after him, and it has a rocket-shaped jungle gym children can climb in. I hope kids today and in the future will have fun playing on and in it, and that it fires up some inspiration for their imagination as well.

Of the original Mercury 7 astronauts, now only John Glenn is still with us. These men made history, dividing all of humanity's timeline into two separate eras: before we went into space, and after. We can move on and expand on their accomplishments, but we can never replace them. They were the first.

Phil Plait writes Slate’s Bad Astronomy blog and is an astronomer, public speaker, science evangelizer, and author of Death From the Skies!  

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