Scott Carpenter, the second American astronaut to orbit Earth, died from complications following a stroke Thursday. He was 88.

Carpenter worked with NASA as one of the original Mercury 7 astronauts – Carpenter, John Glenn, L. Gordon Cooper, Virgil “Gus” Grissom, Walter Schirra, Alan Shepard and Donald “Deke” Slayton. Glenn, the first American astronaut to orbit the earth, is the sole remaining member of the elite group.

Carpenter had been Glenn’s backup pilot when he shot up through Earth’s atmosphere to perform the United State’s first manned orbital space flight in February 1962. In May of that year, Carpenter performed the country’s second manned orbital flight, which lasted four hours and 54 minutes.

"We have lost a true pioneer. I shall long remember him not only for his smarts and courage but his incredible humor. He kept us all grounded," said NASA Administrator Charlie Bolden, reported CNN. "We will miss him greatly."

Following his time with NASA, the Colorado-born Carpenter, became an aquanaut, exploring underwater environments similarly to how he explored space. Working for the Navy’s Man in the Sea Project, he completed a mission that had him living on the seafloor for 30 days before he was promoted to director of the Navy’s aquanaut operations.

Carpenter is survived by his wife Patty Barrett and seven children.

– Chelsea Regan

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