Behind the Scenes: Inside Astronaut Scott Carpenter's 1962 Mercury Flight (Photos)

Round and Round


The second American to orbit the Earth, Scott Carpenter, blasted off on May 24, 1962 and made three trips around the planet before he accidentally landed off-course. See archival NASA photos of the historic mission in this photo gallery.

Here: Astronaut M. Scott Carpenter, prime pilot for Mercury-Atlas 7, undergoes centrifuge training to simulate high G-forces during spaceflight. This photo was taken in 1959, three years before his first orbital flight.

Balance Beam


In this photo taken in 1961, Scott Carpenter participates in a balance mechanism performance test by walking barefoot on a narrow board at the School of Aviation Medicine in Pensacola, Florida.

One Foot in Front of the Other


At the School of Aviation Medicine in Pensacola Florida, Scott Carpenter finishes another test of balance as he places one foot in front of another to walk in a straight line.

ALFA Trainer


At NASA's Langley Air Force Base, Project Mercury astronaut Scott Carpenter, prime pilot for NASA's second orbital flight, manually controls a spacecraft simulator in the Air Lubricated Free Attitude trainer in preparation for the Mercury-Atlas 7 mission. The astronaut piloting the trainer sees an image of Earth at his feet.

Learning Procedures


In a procedures trainer at Langley Air Force Base, prime pilot for NASA's second manned orbital flight, Project Mercury astronaut Scott Carpenter, trains during a simulated mission.

Resting and Testing


At Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida, Mercury astronaut Scott Carpenter, with biosensors attached to his head, lies in a bed during a 1962 astronaut training activity.

MA7 Discussion


Astronaut John Glenn, on the left, and Scott Carpenter talk over the Mercury-Atlas 7 mission flight plan. Glenn became the first American to orbit the Earth on Feb. 20, 1962 — about three months before Carpenter did the same.



Before the 1962 launch of the Mercury-Atlas 7, astronauts John Glenn, on the left, and Scott Carpenter, prime pilot for NASA's second manned orbital mission, make last minute preparations for the flight.

Learning the Ropes


In the White Room at Cape Canaveral in Florida, Project Mercury astronaut Scott Carpenter trains on how to exit the craft through the top. He holds the "man line" attaching the survival kit to the astronaut in case of a contingent landing. The bag holding the life vest is visible around Carpenter's neck.

New Getup


In May 1962, during a suiting exercise at Hanger S crew quarters, astronaut Scott Carpenter, Mercury-Atlas 7 prime pilot, sits in a mockup of his pilot seat in his complete suit.

Exit the Vehicle


A water egress training session prepares astronaut Scott Carpenter for his responsibilities as prime pilot for the Mercury-Atlas 7 mission.

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Christine Lunsford
Producer and Contributing Writer

Christine Lunsford joined the team in 2010 as a freelance producer and later became a contributing writer, covering astrophotography images, astronomy photos and amazing space galleries and more. During her more than 10 years with, oversaw the site's monthly skywatching updates and produced overnight features and stories on the latest space discoveries. She enjoys learning about subjects of all kinds.