On this sad occasion of the passing of Astronaut Scott Carpenter this week at 88, I’m reminded of the relationship between astronauts and acrobatics. Scott Carpenter was a true pioneer in the aerospace world, but was also a true trampoline and tumbling supporter.
An original astronaut from the Mercury project, Carpenter was the second American ever to orbit the earth. He was portrayed in the movie The Right Stuff about the Mercury 7 project. In 1972, he accompanied the US National Trampoline Team to the Dobrovolski Cup in the Soviet Union named after the Russian Cosmonaut Georgi Dobrovolski who was killed on Soluz 11 mission. He traveled with the Team upon the invitation of another pioneer, Mr. George Nissen, who we all know is credited with developing the first competition trampolines. The two men had a personal friendship that began when they were in the Navy. Then Ensign George Nissen was a fitness instructor. Carpenter was one of his students, who spent six months learning to bounce on a trampoline. On May 28, 2012, I wrote about the two men in the blogpost In Honor of Memorial Day: Mr. Nissen & Scott Carpenter.
In a later post, we learn that the National Aerospace and Scientific Administration (NASA) conducted a study that concluded that rebounding on a trampoline is 68% more effective than jogging as a cardio workout. NASA Scientists Agree: Trampoline is More Beneficial Than Jogging was posted on June 7, 2012. The same research was referenced in a popular Guest Pundit post by Matthew Hampson from Big Game Hunters in Oxfordshire, UK called Trampoline: Better than Gym Chains and Jogging, posted on April 23, 2013.
The relationship between astronauts and acrobatics can be examined extensively, but the beautiful video below says a lot. Another American Astronaut, Al Bean, demonstrates acrobatics in weightlessness on Skylab 3. He was clearly a trained springboard diver. It’s a stunning example of acrobatic movement without the assistance of gravity. Watch it over and over.
It was an honor to meet you Mr. Carpenter. Godspeed.