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Aurora 7, Second Orbital Space Mission

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Mercury astronaut Scott Carpenter lifts off from Cape Canaveral on May 24, 1962, in his Aurora 7 capsule. (Photo NASA)

Astronaut M. Scott Carpenter in his capsule, Aurora 7, was launched on 24 May 1962. A Navy Lieutenant Commander and aviator, he became the second American to orbit the earth. Carpenter’s mission completed 3 orbits of the earth and lasted 4 hours and 56 minutes. Unfortunately for astronaut Carpenter, he seemed distracted, quickly fell behind schedule with his tasks during the mission, used up most of his fuel for maneuvering the capsule and then had problems on re-entry landing 250 miles long of the scheduled recovery site.

Astronaut M. Scott Carpenter enters his Mercury capsule, Aurora 7, in May 1962.

He knew that it would be awhile before he was picked up and was concerned about losing the capsule to ocean waves with the main door open. Astronaut Carpenter decided to leave the main door shut and climb out the top of the capsule instead. Then he waited in his raft for pickup. It would be two hours before he was picked up by a helicopter and flown to USS Intrepid (CVS-11).

Carpenter practicing exits through the top of the capsule. (Photo NASA)

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