Congress can agree on something: honoring a Mercury astronaut

There seems to be very little Republicans and Democrats in the Senate and the House agree on these days, as the government shutdown that started October 1 continues. But members of both the majority and minority caucuses of the House Science Committee did find common ground, issuing releases late last week on the passing of Scott Carpenter, one of the original Mercury Seven astronauts.

“As one of the pioneers of our space program in Project Mercury, Commander Carpenter helped to lead the way for our future human endeavors in space,” said committee chairman Rep. Lamar Smith (R-TX) in a statement late Thursday. “The memory of his bravery, courage and the sacrifices he made for our nation will live on. He truly had ‘the right stuff.’”

Those comments were echoed in a statement issued Friday (but not yet posted on its website) by the committee’s Democratic leadership. “Scott Carpenter always advocated for a robust space program. He once said when referring to the Mercury 7, ‘We stand here waiting to be outdone,’” said ranking member Rep. Eddie Bernice Johnson (D-TX). “I believe that the best way we can honor his legacy is to continue to invest in our space program and build on that legacy of exploration.” Added Rep. Donna Edwards (D-MD), ranking member of the committee’s space subcommittee, “I hope we build on his accomplishments and honor his life by ensuring that his wish [that more people could experience spaceflight] becomes a reality for many more American astronauts.”

2 comments to Congress can agree on something: honoring a Mercury astronaut

  • Malmesbury

    An official “set the record straight” about the hardware problems on MA-7 which caused the overshoot of the landing area would be nice.

    Or is that too much to ask?


    Carpenter embraced the curiosity that drives exploration– be it above the stratosphere or beneath the sea. Time has eroded the hard facts surrounding the technical glitches plaging Mercury– all the flights had them. That was the state of the art on the edge of the New Frontier at that time.

    The missile reliability was about 65%– per Chris Kraft– in the Mercury days so the courage in self and confidence in others displayed by Carpenter– indeed all of the Mercury astronauts- is undeniable. More importantly, there was a kind of calming comfort for Cold War America at that time seeing that famous photo of seven men in their silver pressure suits and white helmets, eager to mount the Mercury steed and joust with the Russian bear in space. For the bulk of American public at that time, that’s what it was all about. To meet the challenge, to compete– and yes, to show the flag.

    Ad Astra Scott Carpenter. And yes… Godspeed.

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