Former NASA astronaut and University of Colorado at Boulder alumnus Scott Carpenter, the second American to orbit Earth, will be on campus Oct. 12 to present a $10,000 astronaut scholarship to a CU-Boulder physics department senior.
Carpenter, who graduated from CU-Boulder in aeronautical engineering in 1949 and orbited Earth three times in 1962, will present the check to CU-Boulder senior William "Lee" Willcockson, a physics major from Morrison, Colo. Willcockson is one of 18 science and engineering students nationwide selected to receive $10,000 scholarships through the Astronaut Scholarship Foundation.
"CU-Boulder is pleased to be involved with the Astronaut Scholarship Foundation, and this award to Lee Willcockson is very deserving," said CU-Boulder Provost Phil DiStefano. "As one of the top space research universities in the world, we pride ourselves on attracting and educating students of Lee's caliber."
Willcockson is engaged in plasma physics research in the physics department with his adviser, Assistant Professor Tobin Munsat. Willcockson also is president of the student chapter of the Society of Physics at CU-Boulder.
Astronaut scholarship candidates are nominated by faculty members at 18 cooperating institutions including CU-Boulder and submitted to the Astronaut Scholarship Foundation's scholarship committee for review. The foundation, which selects one student from each institution, has awarded more than $2.3 million in scholarships to 211 students nationwide since 1986.
Carpenter will give a talk and present a scholarship check to Willcockson at 4 p.m. Oct. 12 in a ceremony in the Discovery Learning Collaboratory, room 1B70. The room is located in the College of Engineering and Applied Science on Regent Drive at Colorado Avenue.
The Astronaut Scholarship Foundation is a non-profit organization established in 1984 by six of America's original Mercury astronauts. The goal is to help the nation retain its world leadership in science and technology by providing scholarships for students who exhibit motivation and imagination and whose performance is exceptional.
Carpenter also will tour the aerospace engineering sciences department and meet with several faculty members and administrators from engineering and physics.
Carpenter flew on the second American manned orbital flight by NASA on May 24, 1962. The Aurora 7 capsule carrying Carpenter made three revolutions of Earth in just under five hours, reaching a maximum altitude of 164 miles before landing in the Atlantic Ocean about 1,000 miles southeast of Cape Canaveral, Fla.
Carpenter was selected as one of the original seven Mercury astronauts in 1959, and served as back-up pilot to John Glenn for America's first manned orbital flight. He took a leave of absence from NASA to participate in the U.S. Navy's SEALAB II program in 1965 and spent 30 days living and working on the ocean floor in the Pacific off the coast of San Diego.
He later became executive assistant to the director of NASA's Manned Spaceflight Center and was involved in the design of the Apollo Lunar Landing Module. After leaving NASA, Carpenter founded Sea Sciences, Inc., a venture capital corporation active in developing programs aimed at enhancing the use of ocean resources and improving environmental health. He worked closely with the late French oceanographer Jacques Cousteau during that time and has done underwater diving in most of the world's oceans, including under the Arctic ice.
A resident of Vail, Carpenter lectures frequently in the United States and abroad on the history and future of the ocean and space technology. He has written two novels, and his memoir, "For Spacious Skies," which he co-authored with his daughter, Kristen Stoever, was published by Harcourt in January 2003.
To date, 16 astronaut-alumni from CU-Boulder have flown in space.
More than 60 NASA astronauts are now involved with the Astronaut Scholarship Foundation. For more information go to the Web: www.AstronautScholarship.org