The Herald, Sharon, Pa.

Breaking News

Local News

October 12, 2013

Pedas recalls ‘space cowboy’ friend

FARRELL — Scott Carpenter was more than an iconic astronaut to Farrell astronomer and educational cruise impresario Ted Pedas.

Pedas counted Carpenter as a close friend for more than four decades.

“He would say to me, ‘You’re a teacher in the best sense of the word,’ ” Pedas remembered Friday, the day after Carpenter died in a Denver hospice of complications from a stroke.

The 88-year-old Carpenter told Pedas that when he was growing up he dreamed of being a cowboy.

As one of the original Mercury 6 astronauts who had the “Right Stuff” to tackle President John F. Kennedy’s challenge to make it to the moon during the 1960s, Carpenter fulfilled that dream, Pedas said.

“In a way, he was a modern cowboy,” Pedas said.

A space cowboy, as some might say, and later a sea cowboy, exploring the wonders of the deep.

Carpenter followed John Glenn into orbit, and it was Carpenter who gave him the historic sendoff, “Godspeed John Glenn.”

The two were the last survivors of the famed original Mercury 7 astronauts. Glenn is the only one left alive.

In his only flight, Carpenter missed his landing by 288 miles, leaving a nation on edge for an hour as it watched live and putting Carpenter on the outs with his NASA bosses. So Carpenter found a new place to explore: the ocean floor.

He was the only person who was both an astronaut and an aquanaut, exploring the old ocean and what President Kennedy called “the new ocean” – space.

“He believed so strongly in President Kennedy,” Pedas remembered, and he answered Kennedy’s call to action to explore the wonders of the final frontier, space.

Life was an adventure for Carpenter and he said it should be for others: “Every child has got to seek his own destiny. All I can say is that I have had a great time seeking my own.”

The launch into space was nerve-racking for the Navy pilot on the morning of May 24, 1962.

“You’re looking out at a totally black sky, seeing an altimeter reading of 90,000 feet and realize you are going straight up. And the thought crossed my mind: What am I doing?” Carpenter said 49 years later in a joint lecture with Glenn at the Smithsonian Institution.

For Carpenter, the momentary fear was worth it, he said in 2011: “The view of Mother Earth and the weightlessness is an addictive combination of senses.”

The heights to which Carpenter rose didn’t effect his ego, Pedas said.

“He was very, very, very humble,” Pedas said, remembering that Carpenter was the only scientist or celebrity who said “yes” to Pedas’ effort in July 1972 to put on an educational cruise on the Atlantic during that year’s total eclipse of the sun.

Over the subsequent decades, Carpenter took part in 32 of Pedas’ cruises.

He was one of the few dignitaries who cruised with Pedas who wasn’t “selling something” like a book and he never charged for autographs, Pedas said.

“He said the American taxpayers paid my way all my life and I owe it to them,” Pedas said.

Pedas remembered Carpenter’s relentless curiosity to discover how things worked.

“He was a very unique person,” Pedas said.

Carpenter once joked there was more technology in a modern wristwatch than there was on the Aurora 7 space capsule he piloted.

They had to manually wind the clock on that spaceship, Carpenter told Pedas.

He was the most physically fit, but the least educated of the original astronauts, Pedas said.

But Carpenter had “enormous discipline,” Pedas said.

His passing marks the end of an era, Pedas said.

“They won’t see the likes of these kinds of people again,” Pedas said of the Mercury 7 astronauts.

“Under very trying conditions, they set the standards,” Pedas said.

1
Text Only
Local News
  • Couple, another man charged in thefts

    Pennsylvania State Police have filed charges of burglary, theft, receiving stolen property and criminal mischief against an East Palestine, Ohio, couple and another man in connection with two robberies in rural Mercer County.

    July 22, 2014

  • Taking stock Where’s the beef? Bull’s still missing

    Is it possible that an alien abduction took place in the Mercer area last week? A solid red, 2-year-old Watusi bull with 3-foot-long horns has been missing since July 14 with no trace of its existence left on earth.

    July 22, 2014 1 Photo

  • Buhl Day honorees

    The Buhl Day committee has chosen for this year’s celebration five honored guests whose volunteer work they feel best showcases the legacy of philanthropic work left behind by Frank and Julia Buhl a century ago.

    July 22, 2014

  • GC pair not hurt in accident injuring 2

    Two drivers were taken to a hospital after an accident at the intersection of state routes 965 and 173 in Worth Township, police said.

    July 21, 2014

  • WaterFire crowds WaterFire doused

    Sharon’s WaterFire wasn’t lacking either of its elements on Saturday. There was steady, day-long rain but the day concluded with the Shenango River ablaze.

    July 21, 2014 2 Photos

  • ‘Starved’ boy released from hospital

    A 7-year-old boy allegedly starved and beaten by his mother is out of the hospital and ordered out of his Greenville home by Mercer County Common Pleas President Judge Thomas R. Dobson.

    July 20, 2014

  • WaterFire walking tour Time traveling

    A group of more 50 people walked between the raindrops Saturday during an historical tour of downtown Sharon during the city’s WaterFire celebration.

    July 20, 2014 6 Photos 1 Story

  • News briefs from July 19, 2014

    Michigan man charged with assaulting girl here

    Sharon man charged with raping woman

    July 19, 2014

  • For sale Realty transfer tax hike headed for ballot

    Sharon voters will be deciding through a referendum whether city council can raise the realty transfer tax. Council gave first reading Thursday to an ordinance that phrases the question that will be printed on the November ballot.

    July 19, 2014 1 Photo

  • Bella recovering Vet: Dog lucky to be alive, should survive

    Although a veterinarian said an underweight dog found Thursday with a gruesome neck wound was lucky to be alive, her prognosis for recovery is good.

    July 19, 2014 2 Photos

  • Alleged hit-run driver arrested

    Sharon police said Friday afternoon they had arrested a man believed to have driven a vehicle that struck an 11-year-old boy Thursday and left the scene.

    July 19, 2014

  • Boy ‘was being starved’

    A 7-year-old Greenville boy described as looking like a human skeleton had been starved and beaten by his mother for a year, authorities are saying.

    July 19, 2014

  • Corruption case puts ex-youth leader in rehab program

    The former commander of the local Civil Air Patrol squadron has been admitted into a diversionary program to resolve a criminal case, but the conditions of the program all but forbid his involvement with CAP, his attorney said.

    July 18, 2014

  • GACT’s ‘Steel Magnolias’ opens tonight at Thiel

    Beauty parlor gossip, southern drawls and big hair may sound out of place for Mercer County, but it’s very much a real scene in Thiel College’s William Robinson Theater.

    July 18, 2014

  • Police seek hit-and-run driver who struck boy

    A boy riding a Mongoose bike on Second Avenue in Sharon Thursday evening was struck straight on by a truck whose driver never hit the brakes or looked back, witnesses said.

    July 18, 2014