Happy 54th anniversary Mercury-Aurora 7

26 May

When you ask people to name the first person to orbit the Earth they could probably tell you that it was John Glenn. If you asked them who was the second man to orbit the Earth you would probably just get a blank stare because most people do not remember who does something second. The answer though is Scott Carpenter when he orbited the Earth in the Aurora 7 capsule.

 “I think of Project Mercury and the open manner in which we are conducting it for the benefit of all as a light in the sky. Aurora also means dawn — in this case the dawn of a new age.”

It was 54 years ago yesterday when an Atlas LV-3B rocket lifted off from launch compound 14 at Cape Canaveral, Florida. The launch took place at 12:45 universal time (7:45 am ET) and took Scott Carpenter aboard the Aurora 7 into a low Earth orbit. Once in space Mr. Carpenter would spend the next 4 hours and 56 minutes making 3 orbits of the Earth and carrying out a number of maneuvers and observations. After the mission he splashed down at 17:41 universal time (5:41 pm ET) where Mr. Carpenter was picked up by a helicopter dispatched from the USS Intrepid and the capsule was recovered by the USS John R Pierce.

Before the mission Mr. Carpenter’s day began at 1:15 am ET with a wake up call. He then sat down to a hardy breakfast of Filet Mignon,poached eggs, toast, orange juice, and coffee. Once he was finished with his morning feast it was off to have a physical examination. The last item before the countdown start was to have Mr. Carpenter wired up with bio-medical sensors to measure his vital signs during the mission. He was then helped into the capsule were he would wait for the engines to roar to life and carry him into space.

Scott Carpenter was not the first choice for the mission. Deke Slayton was to have the honor of going up but upon an examination it showed a cardiac arrhythmia and he was pulled from the mission. Normally, in a case like this it would be the back-up pilot that would take over the mission. In this case it was determined that Wally Shirra was not quite ready for everything the mission would entail. So, the controls were handed over to Mr. Carpenter, who was John Glenn’s back-up.

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