[PHOTO] Mercury

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[PHOTO] Gordon Cooper in Mercury Spacesuit

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Official portrait of Gordon Cooper while wearing the Mercury spacesuit

Exploring Space


Mercury Astronaut Scott Carpenter: An Era of Dynamism

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Peggy Noonan recalls: Oh what it was like. “Mission Control, Tranquility Base here, the Eagle has landed.” “America on the moon.” “Godspeed, John Glenn.” “Come on and light this candle.” “A-OK.” “Four 3, 2, 1, and liftoff, we have liftoff.”

Oh, we did. Those are words and phrases of America’s space program, especially the Mercury program, one of whose astronauts died this week, 88-year-old Scott Carpenter. In 1962 he became the second American to orbit the Earth. He was the one they couldn’t find for a while, when he missed his splashdown point by about 250 miles. It’s tempting to write that all of America was on the edge of their seats while Navy planes searched for him and his capsule, but we weren’t. We knew it would be fine.

But what an era of dynamism, of breaking through, of pushing out, of daring.

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