News has come in that Mercury astronaut Scott Carpenter died today at the ripe age of 88. He was the only Mercury astronaut that I ever met in person. I had lunch with him more than a decade ago.
The lunch took place on Saturday, August 4, 2001 at the Kennedy Space Center. I was in Orlando for a conference and took the day on Saturday to visit the space center. They had this program to have lunch with an astronaut and I did it. I wasn’t the only one. I think there were a few dozen others. We had lunch in a conference center and while we ate, Scott Carpenter gave a talk. I wish I could remember what he talked about, but I don’t remember, and I didn’t record it in my diary.
He did chat with people individually afterward and I got to say a few words to him. I also got his autograph, which was pretty cool. (At that point in time, I also had John Glenn’s autograph, meaning I had more astronaut autographs than science fiction writers!) It was great to meet him in person, and I was sadden to see the news of his passing today.