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Scott Carpenter, second U.S. astronaut in orbit, dies

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Scott Carpenter, second U.S. astronaut in orbit, dies

CREATED Oct 10, 2013

DENVER (AP) -- Scott Carpenter once said that "conquering fear is one of life's greatest pleasures," and he said "it can be done a lot of different places."

He proved that by pioneering his way into the heights of space and the depths of the ocean floor.

Carpenter, one of the original Mercury 7 astronauts, has died at the age of 88. His wife says he died in a Denver hospice of complications from a stroke. His death leaves John Glenn as the only survivor from among the seven Americans who were said to have "the right stuff" for space travel.

Glenn was the first American in orbit, and Carpenter followed three months later, in May of 1962. He completed three orbits around Earth in his space capsule, the Aurora 7. But things started to go wrong on re-entry. An instrument that tells the pilot which way the capsule is pointing malfunctioned, forcing Carpenter to manually take over control of the landing. He missed his landing zone by more than 200 miles.

The Navy found him in the Caribbean, floating in his life raft with his feet propped up. A NASA official accused him of making poor decisions during the flight. He never went back into space.

But in 1965, he spent 30 days under the ocean off the coast of California as part of the Navy's SeaLab program, working with the Navy to bring some of NASA's training and technology to the sea floor.