When I was little, I used to go play at Scott Carpenter Park and in the outdoor pool there often. I noticed that the playthings in the park area were all space-themed, like the huge tall rocketship that only the bravest kids would dare climb to the very top, but I never connected the space travel theme with the man whom the park was named for. I had heard he was an astronaut, or something…
Scott Carpenter was an astronaut, indeed. Born in Boulder, he was part of the crew of the Mercury 7 flight, and also his smaller manned spacecraft he called the Aurora 7. He received his aerospace training from CU-Boulder and lots more training of various types from his extensive time in the Navy. In fact, when his career in space was over, he spent time training on the ocean floor (neutral gravity experiments and such). From outer space to inner earth–what a fascinating career in strange (dual, even opposite) environments! He was the first man to ever penetrate both inner and outer space, and even given a dual title: astronaut/aquanaut.
Beyond space capsules, Navy aircraft carriers, and deep sea stations, however, he had other interests and other innovations in the world: he was an avid skier, and lived in his native Colorado till the end of his days. He was an environmental activist, designing and consulting on pest control, waste handling and waste management that was better for the health of the planet. He not only was a consultant to the film industry (and actor as well as documentary narrator) and the corporate sector in the areas of his expertise, but appeared as a spokesperson for several companies in TV spots as well, from GE to Nintendo and Atari.
- He had technical issues upon his reentry to earth after the Mercury 7 mission was done, and had to manually time part of his landing.
- He injured his arm in a motorcycle accident and so was unable to work on another deep sea mission with the Navy.
- He was a wasp breeder after his retirement.
- He was a novelist as well, writing thrillers with naval and military suspense. His first novel is called The Steel Albatross.
- He was awarded seven honorary degrees.
- He worked closely with J.Y. Cousteau on his Calypso team.