Carpenter's Errors Disclosed by Project Mercury Officials

May 26, 1962 - Lieut. Comdr. Scott Carpenter made the mistake of leaving two control systems in operation in the final phase of his flight in the Aurora VII before firing the retro rockets to bring him out of orbit. This apparently accounts for the fact that the fuel supply on both systems reached dangerously low points. It does not necessarily account for the fact that the space capsule overshot its intended landing spot by 250 miles. Disclosure of the error was made by Project Mercury officials in Florida and at Grand Turk, the British West Indies island, where the 37-year-old astronaut has been reviewing the flight and undergoing medical examinations. It was stressed that the mistake had not been a critical one and that the astronaut should not be unduly criticized for one oversight in the stress of getting ready for the most critical phase of the flight. Their main interest in achieving full understanding of the error was to show that the Mercury capsule had not failed. In fact, they were so encouraged by the performance of the capsule and the astronaut that they were favorably considering going to a seven-orbit mission the next time around.

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