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Early US Astronaut Scott Carpenter Dies at Age 88, Wife Says

In this Aug. 1962 file photo, astronaut Scott Carpenter has his space suit adjusted by a technician in Cape Canaveral, Fla.
Scott Carpenter, an early U.S. astronaut who orbited Earth in 1962, died on Thursday morning in a Denver hospice center at age 88 of complications from a stroke, his wife Patty Carpenter said.

Carpenter made only one spaceflight, taking the Aurora 7 spacecraft on three laps around Earth on May 24, 1962, a few weeks after his 37th birthday. It was a flight of less than five hours and made him the fourth American in space and the second, after John Glenn, to orbit Earth.

Carpenter was part of the Mercury 7 team - the seven pilots chosen by NASA in 1959 to be astronauts in response to the Soviet Union's space program.

Despite his fame as an astronaut, Carpenter spent considerably more time on the ocean floor than he did in outer space. In 1965, the astronaut became an aquanaut as part of the Navy's SEALAB II project, spending 30 days living and working at a depth of 204 feet (62 meters) off the California coast.

Born in Boulder, Colorado, he split his time between Vail, Colorado, and West Palm Beach, Florida, Patty Carpenter said. His given name was Malcolm Scott Carpenter but he used Scott as a first name.