Mercury Astronaut Malcolm Scott Carpenter (b.1925) died on October 10. Carpenter flew reconnaissance missions for the Navy in Korea before being selected as part of the initial astronaut class by NASA. When Deke Slayton was grounded, Carpenter was moved forward in the flight rotation. He flew on Aurora 7 on May 24, 1962, the fourth American in space and the second to achieve orbit. His flight considered a success until the last moments when a mechanical problem caused him to splashdown 400 km beyond his planned landing zone. Two years later, he left NASA to join the Navy’s SEALAB program and, after leaving the Navy in 1969, he founded Sea Sciences, Inc. to help develop products from the oceans. Prior to his own flight, Carpenter uttered the phrase “Godspeed, John Glenn” just before Glenn’s Friendship 7 capsule was launched. Glenn is now the only living member of the Mercury 7.
Cosmonaut Yuri Lonchakov, who was slated to serve as Commander of the International Space Station beginnning in March 2015, has announced his resignation. According to Lonchakov, he found a better job than working in space and will be officially discharged on September 14. Lonchakov oined the cosmonaut corps in 1997 and flew three spaceflights to the International Space Station. In 2001, he flew on STS-100 aboard Endeavour and in 2008, he flew on the 100th manned Soyuz mission. He has spent 200 days, 19 hours in space.
Astronaut C. Gordon Fullerton (b.1936) died on August 21. Fullerton was part of Astronaut Group 7, selected in 1969 and served on the support crews for the final four lunar missions. In 1977, he was assigned as a pilot on crew 1 under Fred Heise for the Shuttle Approach and Landing Test program, flying the Enterprise. Five years later, he served as pilot on STS-3 and later as commander for STS-51-F. Fullerton suffered a stroke in 2009 and died of complications from that stroke.
In Heinlein’s 1956 novel Time for the Stars, he described an experiment in which one identical twin was sent on a space mission while the other stayed at home. NASA has now announced that it will be using a set of twins to examine the effects of prolonged space flight on the human body. Astronaut Scott Kelly, veteran of two shuttle missions and a former ISS Commander, will spend a year aboard the ISS for NASA longest spaceflight ever. His brother, Mark Kelley, who flew four shuttle missions, including as commander of Endeavour‘s final flight, will remain on Earth as the control. Scott Kelly is scheduled to join the ISS crew in March 2014.
Jeff Bezos has confirmed that the engines his team discovered on the ocean floor in March are in fact the engines which launched the Apollo XI to the Moon in 1969. His announcement, based on the discovery of part numbers at the Kansas Cosmosphere and Space Center in Hutchinson, comes one day before the 44th anniversary of the first lunar landing, accomplished by Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin using the engines Bezos has recovered.
After many years of fighting with the bureaucracy over the official story regarding the death of Yuri Gagarin in 1968, Alexei Leonov has been given permission to discuss the formerly classified findings surrounding Gargarin’s death. The official story was that Gagarin, the first man in space, went into a tailspin while trying to avoid a foreign object during a training flight. According to Leonov, another pilot flew too close to Gagarin’s plane and Gagarin responded to avoid hitting the other pilot, which caused the fatal crash which killed Gagarin and flight instructor Vladimir Seryogi. Under the agreement Leonov has made to reveal what he has, he is not permitted to release the name of the other pilot, who is still alive.