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Mercury astronaut Scott Carpenter dies at 88

Published On: Dec 24 2013 10:44:58 AM EST
Updated On: Oct 10 2013 10:40:30 PM EDT
Astronaut Scott Carpenter

NASA

Astronaut Scott Carpenter, the second American to orbit the Earth, has died, NASA said on Thursday. He was 88.

The first American in orbit was fellow Mercury astronaut John Glenn. Carpenter also uttered the famous words: "Godspeed John Glenn."

Carpenter's flight was marred by technical glitches and ended with the nation waiting to see if he had survived.

"We, the whole NASA family, are mourning with Scott's family. We have lost a true pioneer. I shall long remember him not only for his smarts and courage but his incredible humor. He kept us all grounded," said NASA Administrator Charlie Bolden. "We will miss him greatly."

Carpenter was one of the Mercury Seven astronauts chosen by NASA. He was a backup pilot for Glenn in the preparation for America's first manned orbital space flight in February 1962, according to a NASA biography.

Carpenter flew the second American manned orbital flight in May of that year. Flight time was four hours and 54 minutes.

He was born in Boulder, Colo., and attended the University of Colorado, where he studied aeronautical engineering.

With Carpenter's death, Glenn is the lone survivor of the Mercury Seven.

Carpenter's memoir, "For Spacious Skies: The Uncommon Journey of a Mercury Astronaut," was published in 2003.

"He was one of the good guys and a good friend, a pioneer who made significant contributions to our country," said Dick Gordon, command module pilot for Apollo 12.