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Photographer's Note

Scott Carpenter, one of the original seven Mercury astronauts, passed away this week at 88. A longer obituary can be seen here.

His Mercury capsule, called "Aurora 7," is on display at the Museum of Science and Industry in Chicago. I was able to snap this glimpse of the controls during a visit to Chicago in 2010 -- although it was through a piece of plexiglass and under very dim light.

The level of technology that was used during the early space flights is frighteningly primitive. Carpenter spent five hours in this capsule, orbiting the earth three times. Radio contact was lost on re-entry and many feared for the worst -- but he was rescued in the Atlantic Ocean, 250 miles from the intended splashdown point.

I was able to find a more detailed schematic of the instrument panel where the labels are more legible. The large circle in the center is not a window, but rather a periscope viewer.

To a child of these times, there was no celebrity bigger than an astronaut. No movie star, no pop idol, no politician was held in higher regard. Now, the only one of the seven who survives is John Glenn, at 92.

Godspeed, Scott Carpenter.

jcpix, Noel_Byrne, jhm, ourania, mcmtanyel has marked this note useful

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Additional Photos by Russ Ham (EstudioChispa) Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 223 W: 76 N: 433] (1890)
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