Vail’s astronaut Scott Carpenter, 88, recovering from recent stroke
Ryan Summerlin October 2, 2013
VAIL — It’s John Glenn’s turn to wish Scott Carpenter God speed.
Scott Carpenter, a longtime Vail local, suffered a stroke earlier this week.
Scott Carpenter, 88, and Glenn, 92, are the last living members of the Mercury 7 team, NASA’s first team of astronauts. They talk almost every day and Glenn has been calling regularly since word of Scott Carpenter’s stroke spread through the space community, said Patty Carpenter, Scott’s wife.
“John has been one of Scott’s greatest supporters,” Patty said.
Scott Carpenter has been moved to rehab center specifically for stroke patients.
“The intention is to strengthen him so he can be up and around in several weeks,” Patty Carpenter said.
God speed, John Glenn
Scott Carpenter is fondly remembered for his radio call “God speed, John Glenn,” when Friendship 7 lifted off and Glenn became the first American to orbit the Earth, Feb. 20, 1962. Scott Carpenter was Glenn’s backup pilot for that flight.
Three months later, May 24, 1962, Carpenter became the second American in orbit when he piloted his Aurora 7 capsule through three orbits around Earth.
“Scott was John’s backup. Now John is his backup,” Patty Carpenter said.
This past year Scott Carpenter celebrated the 50th anniversary of his Aurora 7 flight, when he became the fourth American in space, the second to orbit the Earth and the sixth man worldwide to leave the planet.
“God bless, Scott Carpenter,” Glenn told Patty during one of their calls this week.
“I’m encouraged that he will recover with God’s speed,” Patty Carpenter said.
During his Mercury-Atlas 7 mission, Scott Carpenter circled the Earth three times. He was in space 4 hours and 56 minutes. He became the first American to eat solid food in space, energy snacks called Space Food Sticks, small square cubes composed of chocolate, figs and dates mixed with high-protein cereals.
He was selected in 1959 from more than 100 candidates to be one of the original Mercury 7 astronauts.
Aurora 7 was Scott Carpenter’s only spaceflight. A motorcycle accident in 1964 left him with an injured left arm.
Astronaut to aquanaut
He moved from outer space to inner space when, in 1965, he became the first astronaut to become an aquanaut. He spent 30 days on board the Navy’s Sealab II 1965, an experimental habitat in the Pacific Ocean off the coast of California.
Since Scott Carpenter’s stint aboard Sealab, 38 astronauts have followed him into the ocean.
Scott Carpenter retired from the Navy in 1969 and pursued several private businesses, including one as a consultant for spaceflight and oceanography movies.
He has written two novels as well as a memoir titled “For Spacious Skies,” his 2003 autobiography written with his daughter Kris Stoever.
Staff Writer Randy Wyrick can be reached at 970-748-2935 and email@example.com.