Celebrated astronaut Scott Carpenter, whose 1962 flight into space marked only the second time an American had orbited Earth, will be brought back to Boulder to be memorialized in the city where he was born and grew into an eventual living legend.
Former Sen. John Glenn, who preceded Carpenter by a matter of months on the first orbital flight by a U.S. astronaut, is expected to deliver the eulogy of his former colleague and friend at the Nov. 2 ceremony at St. John's Episcopal Church, 1419 Pine St.
Carpenter died at a Denver hospice on Oct. 10 due to complications from a stroke. He was 88.
A number of former astronauts will serve as honorary pallbearers during the ceremony and other dignitaries are expected to be in attendance, said Mike Murphy of Murphy & Associates Funeral Directors in Boulder. He said a list of those planning to be there won't be finalized until next week, but invitations have gone out to Colorado's congressional delegation.
The funeral, which is scheduled for 11 a.m., is open to the public. Carpenter, a former naval aviator, will receive military honors before his body is cremated and buried at his family's ranch in Steamboat Springs.
Murphy said St. John's seats around 550 people, though a portion of the church will be reserved for dignitaries, family members and friends. A chapel on the property that holds up to 120 people and a parish hall that can accommodate another 150 or so will be available to those who wish to attend, with audio from the funeral piped in.
Police will block off Pine Street in front of St. John's, while three nearby churches -- First United Methodist, Trinity Lutheran, and Sacred Heart of Jesus Catholic Church -- will make their parking lots available to funeral goers.
Murphy said the public will have two closed casket visitation opportunities at St. John's on Nov. 1 -- the first from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. and the second from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m.
Carpenter was born in Boulder in 1925 and graduated from Boulder High School in 1943 before briefly attending the University of Colorado at Boulder. He joined the Navy's V-12a training program, designed to help train pilots during World War II, and served for 10 years with the branch before being chosen in 1959 by the newly formed National Aeronautics and Space Administration to be part of its first astronaut group.
Carpenter was one of the last two survivors of the original Mercury 7 space program. Glenn, 92, is the other.
Carpenter's May 24, 1962 flight in space is remembered for its high drama during re-entry, when the key instrument that tells the pilot which way the capsule is pointing malfunctioned, forcing Carpenter to manually take over control of the landing. He also found himself dangerously low on fuel.
NASA's Mission Control, which had lost contact with their astronaut, announced that Carpenter would overshoot his landing zone by more than 200 miles. The grim news prompted CBS newsman Walter Cronkite to solemnly inform his audience: "We may have ... lost an astronaut."
But Carpenter managed to orient himself by simply peering out the space capsule's window. The Navy found him in the Caribbean, floating in his life raft with his feet propped up.
Carpenter's forays into space ended then, but his explorations continued several years later when he completed a 30-day stint in the ocean as part of the Navy's SeaLab II program. He retired from the Navy in 1969, founded his company Sea Sciences Inc., worked closely with Jacques Cousteau and dove in most of the world's oceans, including under the ice in the Arctic.
Carpenter returned to Boulder last year to attend the rededication of the Boulder park bearing his name and to mark the 50th anniversary of his orbital flight.