Malcolm Scott Carpenter, second American to orbit the earth, has died at the age of 88 of complications from a stroke.
Carpenter was one of the original crop of NASA astronauts selected in 1959, and was the fourth American in space aboard Aurora 7 in May of 1962. While his flight was considered a success, there was persistent controversy regarding an "overexpenditure of fuel" that caused Aurora 7 to overshoot its intended splashdown point by some 250 miles. While occasionally criticized for the incident, his reaction to the problem and successful safe landing vindicated the idea that human pilots could, in fact, more than adequately control a spacecraft when automated systems came up short.
As fate would have it, he would never go into space again; after leaving the space program to participate in the Navy's SEALAB program (in which he remained active until the end of his naval career, Carpenter sustained a medically grounding injury in a motorcycle accident. After leaving the Navy in 1969, he founded Sea Sciences, Inc., dedicated to finding ways to harness marine resources and further environmental health.
With his death, John Glenn is the last surviving member of the Mercury 7. As a man who has worked to advance not only space flight, but also oceanographic and environmental sciences, Carpenter leaves a remarkable legacy.
Godspeed, Scott Carpenter.