Scott CarpenterScott Carpenter, Mercury astronaut and the second American to orbit Earth, dies at the age of 88, having recently suffered a stroke. A decorated military pilot, Carpenter became a test pilot in 1954, and was selected as one of the seven Mercury astronauts in 1959. He became the second American astronaut to orbit Earth by coincidence, as fellow Mercury astronaut Deke Slayton had been grounded by a medical condition, bumping Carpenter up to the pilot of the fourth Mercury flight. That was his only spaceflight, as he retired from NASA in 1967.