SCOTT Carpenter, who became the second US astronaut to orbit earth in 1962, as the country battled with Moscow in the space race, has died in Colorado aged 88, his wife says.Carpenter, whose death leaves John Glenn as the only surviving member of the first Project Mercury space program, had suffered a stroke and was in a Denver hospice when he died on Thursday."He had that worldwide perspective of having seen the entire planet," his wife said, quoted by the local Vail Daily newspaper.
Carpenter was chosen as one of seven Mercury astronauts in 1959 and was backup pilot for Glenn in preparation for the first US manned orbital space flight in February 1962, according to his NASA biography. He was Glenn's link in mission control, famously exclaiming "Godspeed, John Glenn," as the Friendship 7 rocket lifted off.
Oh! I have slipped the surly bonds of earth
And danced the skies on laughter-silvered wings;
Sunward I've climbed, and joined the tumbling mirth
Of sun-split clouds - and done a hundred things
You have not dreamed of - wheeled and soared and swung
High in the sunlit silence. Hov'ring there
I've chased the shouting wind along, and flung
My eager craft through footless halls of air.
Up, up the long delirious, burning blue,
I've topped the windswept heights with easy grace
Where never lark, or even eagle flew -
And, while with silent lifting mind I've trod
The high untresspassed sanctity of space,
Put out my hand and touched the face of God.