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Space Was Not the Weirdest Place Scott Carpenter Ever Went

11 Oct 2013, 19:12 UTC
Space Was Not the Weirdest Place Scott Carpenter Ever Went
(200 words excerpt, click title or image to see full post)

The astronaut's 30-day stay in the underwater habitat called Sealab II made his Mercury flight look like a Sunday drive.

We’re right to eulogize early astronauts like Scott Carpenter (who passed away yesterday at the age of 88) for heroism in the face of unknown dangers. The Mercury Seven and their Russian counterparts were, after all, the first people to venture off-Earth.
Carpenter in his spaceman role…
But Carpenter’s Mercury-Atlas 7 flight in 1962 lasted just five hours — three quick orbits, a Pacific splashdown, and that was the beginning and end of his space traveling. At the age of 40, the former Navy pilot then turned to exploring the ocean, which, he came to conclude, “is a much more hostile environment than space.” Carpenter’s experience on SEALAB II in the fall of 1965 bears this out.
SEALAB didn’t have a fraction of Mercury’s funding or publicity, but was just as daring in its own way. The Navy wanted to know if people could live underwater, in a highly pressurized habitat, for extended periods, where they could easily dive in deep water without the time-consuming preparation needed to avoid decompression sickness. SEALAB II was a 57-foot-long steel cylinder dropped to ...

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