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Carpenter, M. Scott

Enshrined 2017 1925-2013

Malcolm Scott Carpenter was born on May first, 1925 in Boulder, Colorado.  Carpenter spent his childhood under the primary guidance of his maternal grandparents, especially his grandfather and hero, Victor Irwin Noxon.

On April 11, 1943, a few months before he graduated from Boulder High School, Carpenter joined the Navy. He spent three semesters at Colorado College before receiving his primary flight training in the summer of 1945. Following World War II, Carpenter used the GI Bill to attend the University of Colorado. 

Carpenter rejoined the Navy in 1949, and received his flight training at Pensacola, Florida and Corpus Christi, Texas, receiving his Naval Aviator wings in April, 1951.

During the Korean War, Carpenter was assigned to Patrol Squadron Six where he flew P2V’s in anti-submarine patrols and shipping surveillance missions in the Yellow Sea, the South China Sea, and the Formosa Straits.

Following the war, Carpenter spent three years at Naval Air Station Patuxent River in Maryland. After attending test pilot school, he was assigned to the Electronics Test Division of the Naval Air Center. For the first time in his life he had access to every airplane available to free world pilots and he flew as many as he could.

In 1957, Carpenter attended the Navy General Line School and then the Navy Air Intelligence School. In 1958 he was assigned to the USS Hornet aircraft carrier as the air intelligence officer. Before he had the opportunity to head out to sea, he was selected to be one of NASA’s original seven Mercury Astronauts on April 9th, 1959.

For the next several years Carpenter went through rigorous intensive training. Carpenter specialized in communication and navigation. During John Glenn’s preparation for the United States’ first manned orbital space flight in February 1962, Scott served as his backup pilot.

In May 1962, Carpenter became the fourth American in space and the second to orbit the Earth. He named his spacecraft Aurora 7.  Carpenter orbited the Earth three times in 4 hours and 54 minutes, reaching a maximum altitude of 164 miles and an orbital velocity of 17,532 miles per hour.

Carpenter took a leave of absence from NASA in the fall of 1963 to train and participate in the Navy’s SeaLab program. On August 28, 1965, as part of SeaLab II, he and other team members spent 28 days living on the Pacific Ocean floor off the coast of California.

Carpenter’s undersea work as an aquanaut proved quite beneficial to NASA’s space program. Following the SeaLab II mission, he returned to NASA as Executive Assistant to the Director of the Manned Spacecraft Center. During his last years with NASA he developed underwater training to help astronauts prepare for future spacewalks. He also helped design the Apollo Lunar Landing Module as well as the underwater extravehicular activity crew training.

Carpenter retired from the Navy as Commander in 1969.  That same year Carpenter founded and was the Chief Executive Officer of Sear Sciences, Inc., a corporation that developed programs for utilizing ocean resources and improving environmental health.

Carpenter, along with fellow Mercury 7 astronauts, created the Astronaut Scholarship Foundation in 1984, to aid science and engineering students annually. In 2006, he returned to the University of Colorado to present a scholarship to a student studying plasma physics.  He also published several books including his autobiography that he co-wrote with his daughter Kris Stover, titled “For Spacious Skies – The Uncommon Journey of a Mercury Astronaut.”

His numerous awards and honors include the Navy Astronaut Wings, the Navy’s Legion of Merit, the Distinguished Flying Cross, and NASA’s Distinguished Service Medal.

Scott Carpenter died on October 10th 2013, at age 88.

Tonight, we are honored to add Malcolm Scott Carpenter; America’s only pioneering astronaut and aquanaut to the National Aviation Hall of Fame.