ALS signed “Scott,” two pages both sides, 6 x 8, July 31, 1964. Letter to Leo. In part: “You are pretty current on my present interest. Although I got picked off before I could actually participate in any of the actual dive I learned a great deal about the problem in general; its importance in the overall scheme of things & some of the small technical problems that stand in our way. In my opinion a lot of big business people will be anxious to exploit this deep submergence capability once it is mastered. Oil and mining interests are the most notable but also the continental shelf is a source of almost unlimited fresh water if we can tap it. Our main problems are in getting these submarine houses or vehicles across the barrier between surface ship and bottom. In other words handling these things on the surface and supporting them by surface ships is a bad problem. The other bad problem has to do with developing instruments that can tell us when we have exactly 1% oxygen in the atmosphere. That is—instruments that measure very small percentages of gasses are needed and we don’t have them. We also need some new designs and new ideas and new power plants but they will come. One thing is sure—Oceanography and deep submergence manned vehicles are here to stay and there is fascination, adventure, discovery, and money in the game. I’d say keep the ship yard anyway.
My bones are all healing OK but I’m going to be in one kind of cast or another for about 10 weeks. I’m not complaining—I could be dead.
Some of the guys at the office got together and either bought or rented a sign ‘Slow’ ‘Hospital Lane’ ‘Quiet.’” Carpenter also adds a small sketch of the sign. He continues, “(I think it was Schirra & Shepard). It was secretly put in the center of the street in front of the Glenns & Carpenters the nite I got home from the hospital. John & I call our street ‘Convalescent Corner.’” In fine condition, with a bit of mild toning near bottom of last page.
Following his successful orbit atop the Mercury-Atlas 7 rocket (Aurora 7) in May of 1962, Scott Carpenter took a leave of absence from the astronaut corps to join the Navy’s SEALAB program. Intended to prove the viability of saturation diving and study the psychological and physiological effects on humans living in isolation for extended periods of time, the program developed experimental underwater habitats in which the aquanauts could live at great depths. While training in Bermuda, Carpenter sustained a massive injury to his left arm in a motorcycle accident, earning him the teasing attention of his notoriously playful fellow astronauts, who lovingly mark his street “Hospital Lane.” After failing to regain mobility in his arm after two surgical interventions, Carpenter was found to be ineligible for spaceflight, leading to his resignation from NASA in August of 1967. Highlighting a true, multi-faceted explorer, this letter discusses Carpenter’s lesser-known passion of deep submergence and wonderfully captures his adventurous spirit, with the added appeal of a lighthearted tale of the famous Mercury pranksters. Pre-certified Steve Zarelli and RR Auction COA.
Terms and abbreviations used in our descriptions.