“When I reached orbit,” astronaut Scott Carpenter wrote in the June 8, 1962, issue of LIFE, “the first thing that impressed me was the silence.”
The 37-year-old Colorado native, just the second American to orbit the Earth (and the fourth American in space) was letting the magazine’s millions of readers in on what he called “the great secret” he’d been privy to during his May 1962 Aurora 7 Mercury flight.
But before the ultimate test of a real, live space flight could begin for any of NASA’s original Mercury 7 (Carpenter, Alan Shepard, John Glenn, Deke Slayton, Gus Grissom, Wally Schirra and Gordon Cooper), the competitive and profoundly confident astronauts had other things to attend to. Like training. And studying. And training some more.
And, of course, they had their families: sometimes right beside them as they braced themselves to push the envelope of exploration further than it had ever been pushed before; sometimes far away, in touch with each other only by phone or written letter or a message relayed by a friend, as the seven were often necessarily isolated in the midst of their intensive and gruelling preparations for “the supreme experience.”
Click the pic to see this amazing insight into the private world of an astronaut.