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Carpenter and Glenn lecture: NASM, June 23, 2011
Glenn noted how keenly he and Carpenter missed the other five Mercury astronauts, no longer with us. Attending this lecture was a rare privilege. I hope many will take this opportunity to enjoy this discussion, and attend a future lecture by this duo. Both were my heroes when I was growing up.
• Glenn – used manual control for last two orbits, after auto thruster failure. Thus too busy to do much science work.
• Carpenter – ate radioactive food for metabolism studies: Can the body process food while in free-fall? (Yes)
• Glenn – Mercury had no computers aboard
. • Glenn – false indication of loose heat shield led to re-entry with retropack still attached, causing flaming chunks of molten metal to whip past his window. Was it the heat shield coming apart? • Carpenter – the heat shield was designed to be jettisoned when the main chute opened, hanging by straps below a canvas bag that acted as an air cushion when the capsule hit the water. This false indication of the air bag being deployed was what caused flight controllers to worry that Glenn’s heat shield was compromised.
• Carpenter – his reentry was colorful due to all the ionized gases thrown off from the ablating heat shield.
• Carpenter – it was great to see the main parachute open!
• Carpenter – learning is fun whether in space or underwater. Enjoyed his SeaLab experience after Mercury.
• Glenn – George W. Bush allotted NASA no new money for the new Constellation lunar program, expecting it would come from ending shuttle and space station. OMB gave NASA no relief, and no new dollars.
I still treasure my copy of “Americans Into Orbit,” from 1964.