Scott Carpenter

American space pioneer

It's one of the lyrical ironies of Scott Carpenter's life that in a career framed by klieg lights and rocket fire, he is best known for a quiet, almost personal utterance. Carpenter, one of NASA's original seven astronauts and a former naval aviator, who died Oct. 10 at age 88, was the on-ground capsule communicator on the day in February 1962 that John Glenn became the first American to orbit Earth.

After the engines on Glenn's rocket lit and the giant machine began to rise off the pad, Carpenter muttered a simple "Godspeed, John Glenn," a remark that was picked up...

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