Scott Carpenter, the second American to orbit the Earth, once recalled the sensation of hurtling straight up into space and thinking “What am I doing?”
Besides capturing the nation’s imagination, Mr. Carpenter blazed a trail others would follow. Not all went smoothly for his flight, but he remained calm — exhibiting the “right stuff” prized by the original Mercury 7 astronauts.
With Mr. Carpenter’s death last week in Denver, Ohio’s John Glenn became the last survivor of the original astronaut corps. Glenn, of course, was the first American to orbit the Earth. It was Carpenter who gave the memorable send-off, “Godspeed, John Glenn,” as Glenn lifted off for his historic mission aboard Friendship 7.