Malcolm Scott Carpenter was born on May 1, 1925, in Boulder, Colorado, United States to parents Dr. Marion Carpenter and Florence Kelso (Noxon) Carpenter. His family moved to the New York area when his father, Marion, got a job there as a research chemist. His mother, Florence, contracted tuberculosis when Scott was a child, and she took him with her when she returned to Boulder to be treated at a sanitarium. The marriage broke up, and Scott was guided by his maternal grandfather, Victor Noxon, who owned and edited a Boulder newspaper. He grew fond of a rugged outdoor life and became enthralled by the prospect of flying.