(CNN) — Astronaut Scott Carpenter, the second American to orbit Earth, died on Thursday, NASA said. He was 88.
“We, the whole NASA family, are mourning with Scott’s family. We have lost a true pioneer. I shall long remember him not only for his smarts and courage but his incredible humor. He kept us all grounded,” said NASA Administrator Charlie Bolden. “We will miss him greatly.”
Carpenter was one of the Mercury Seven astronauts chosen by NASA. He was a backup pilot for John Glenn in the preparation for America’s first manned orbital space flight in February 1962, according to a NASA biography.
Carpenter flew the second American manned orbital flight in May of that year. Flight time was four hours and 54 minutes.
With Carpenter’s death, Glenn is the lone survivor of the Mercury Seven.
Carpenter was born in Boulder, Colorado, and attended the University of Colorado, where he studied aeronautical engineering. He retired from the Navy in 1969, after two decades of service, NASA said.
Carpenter’s memoir, “For Spacious Skies: The Uncommon Journey of a Mercury Astronaut,” was published in 2003.
“He was one of the good guys and a good friend, a pioneer who made significant contributions to our country,” said Dick Gordon, command module pilot for Apollo 12.