Friday, October 11, 2013

God Speed, Scott Carpenter.

I just saw that Scott Carpenter died at 88. There were seven men in the Mercury program: Carpenter, Alan Shepard, John Glenn, Wally Schirra, Deke Slayton, Gordon Cooper and Gus Grissom. Astronaut Group 1. They were nearly the most famous men in the world in their time. All are gone except John Glenn, the oldest (and because he went up as an old man) the last of them to fly into space. The excitement of racing against the Soviets for achievements in what many called "The Space Age" was still palpable when I was a little boy. All of the seven went into space, one of them walked on it and as a group they participated in every one of the major American space efforts, Gemini, Mercury, Apollo and the Shuttle (and even the American/Russian link up of Soyez in the 70's). One died on the launch pad of his third trip to space (Grissom). I think about it when I talk to my sons--when I was about your age men walked on the moon all the time. On the other hand Carpenter went into low earth orbit and we will soon do that as tourists on Virgin Atlantic. Scott Carpenter offended the powers that be on his flight and apparently injured himself in an accident and did not return to space. Instead he joined Jacques Cousteau under the sea. He made a life of under water exploration is Sea Lab and then in his own company created to explore the Oceans. He is undoubtedly the only man alive to survive overshooting a space landing and the sting of a Lionfish. (Page 117 of Killer of the Seas by Edward R. Ricciuti. The first era of heroic space conquests is receding. Those who went first are going. Most were veterans of World War II or Korea. What a time! I think it would be a good weekend to watch the Right Stuff again. Update: Peggy Noonan captures it better than I did here:

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