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OTD in Space – May 24: NASA Launches Aurora 7

On May 24, 1962, NASA astronaut Scott Carpenter became the fourth American to go to space and the second American to orbit the Earth. [‘On This Day in Space’ Video Series on] Carpenter was one of NASA’s first group of astronauts known as the "Mercury Seven.” He was the backup pilot for John Glenn, who first orbited Earth three months earlier. It was Carpenter who famously said “Godspeed, John Glenn” during that flight. The two astronauts had very similar missions, though Carpenter’s tasks involved more science experiments. They both lifted off on Mercury Atlas rockets from the same launchpad at Cape Canaveral, and they both completed three orbits in just under 5 hours. But one big difference between the two missions was the accuracy of their landings. Glenn had missed his target by about 50 miles, but Carpenter overshot it by about 250 miles. He ended up bobbing around in the ocean for over an hour while recovery teams tried to find him. Some NASA officials said Carpenter was distracted and had started his landing preparations late. Carpenter admitted to making some mistakes, but he also partly blamed the miss on problems with the spacecraft’s controls.
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