Scotty Carpenter and the Fireflies

Flight of Mercury-Atlas 7, Callsign Aurora 7

Command Pilot: Malcolm Scott Carpenter, May 24th 1962

I feel the lift off, the clock has started.

Little bit of shaking, pretty smooth.

Clear blue sky; 9,000 feet.

Fuel and oxygen steady.

Here are sunrise and sunset times.

Sunrise orbit one: 1 plus 21 plus 00.

Sunrise orbit two: 2 plus 50 plus 00.

Sunrise orbit three: 4 plus 19 plus 00.

Could you comment on whether you are comfortable?

We are reading 102 degrees on body temperature.

No, I don’t believe that’s correct.

I’m quite comfortable, but sweating some.

I’ll leave the faceplate closed.

I have had one piece of the in-flight food.

It’s crumbling badly and I hate to get it all over.

I have had about four swallows of water.

Roger, four swallows of water.

You wish to start your comment now on the haze layer.

At sunset I was unable to see a separate haze layer.

I’ll watch closely at sunrise and see if I can pick it up, Over.

I have the fireflies.

I was facing away from the sun at sunrise.

Stand by, I think I see more.

Almost like a snowflake caught in an eddy.

They are not glowing with their own light at this time.

It could be frost from a thruster.

This weightless condition is a blessing.

It’s nothing more, nothing less.

I am over the dark side now.

The moonrise has not occurred.

Now I do have the haze layer at this time.

I think the xylose pill will constitute my last zero g meal.

I have a beautiful sunrise through the window.

More of the white particles are in view below the capsule.

They appear to be traveling exactly my speed.

There is one drifting off.

My control mode is now manual.

I will allow the capsule to drift for a little while.

Roger. John suggests you try to look back—

towards the darkness, at sunrise to see those particles.

Toward the darkness?

Roger. At sunrise, try to look toward the darkness.

Okay, I have done that, and—and—tell him no joy.

Roger. Aurora Seven, are you in drifting flight?

That is Roger. I am looking down almost vertically.

It’s possible to distinguish four separate cloud layers.

Small groups of closely knit clouds south of Canary.

I have never seen weather quite like this.

I could be very easily coming in from another planet

and feel that I am on my—on my back,

and that Earth is up above me, sorta the way you feel

when you come out of a split S, or out of an Immelmann.

The zero g sensations are wonderful.

This is the first time I’ve ever worn this suit

and had it comfortable.

I don’t know which way I’m pointed, I don’t particularly care.

The sunsets are most spectacular.

The Earth is black after the sun has set.

The first band close to the Earth is red.

The next is yellow. The next is blue. The next is green.

It’s almost like a very brilliant rainbow.

Your—your inner ears and mental appraisal of horizontal—

you just adapt to this environment like you were born in it.

It’s a great, great freedom.

This haze layer is very bright through the airglow filter.

Sunrise. Ahhhhhhh! Beautiful lighted fireflies that time.

It was luminous that time.

I have— if anybody reads— I have the fireflies.

They are capsule emanating.

I can rap the hatch and stir off hundreds of them.

Rap the side of the capsule; huge streams come out.

Some appear to glow but I don’t believe they really do.

It’s just the light of the sun.

That’s where they come from.

The sun is too bright now.

They are tiny little white pieces of frost.

I see individual fields, rivers, lakes, roads.

Drogue out manually at 25,000ft.

Standing by for main chute at 10,000ft.

I see the main is out and reefed.

Landing bag goes to auto now.

The drogue has fallen away.

I see a perfect chute.

Visor open.

Harry Man 2016 ©

Images courtesy of NASA/JSC/Arizona State University