Walter Cunningham: Final surviving Apollo 7 astronaut has died

Walter Cunningham: Final surviving Apollo 7 astronaut has died

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Walter Cunningham, a retired NASA astronaut and pilot of the primary crewed flight within the house company’s famed Apollo program, died early Tuesday morning on the age of 90, NASA stated.

Cunningham was one of many first members of NASA’s human spaceflight program as a member of the third astronaut class to hitch the house company in 1963. He was chosen to pilot Apollo 7, the primary crewed mission within the NASA program that went on to land people on the moon for the primary time.

“We want to specific our immense delight within the life he lived and our deep appreciation for the person he was – a patriot, explorer, pilot, astronaut, husband, brother and father,” the Cunningham household stated in an announcement. distributed by NASA. “The world has misplaced one other true hero and he might be sorely missed.”

Walter Cunningham: Final surviving Apollo 7 astronaut has died

The Apollo 7 mission was launched in 1968 and lasted roughly 11 days, sending the crew on a journey into orbit that consisted of a take a look at flight that would reveal the Apollo capsule’s capacity to rendezvous with one other spacecraft in orbit and pave the way in which for future exploration of deeper house. He was additionally recognized for showing within the first stay tv broadcast of People from house, in keeping with reviews NASA.

Cunningham was the final surviving member of the Apollo 7 crew, which additionally included astronauts Wally Shiro and Don Eisele.

Born in Creston, Iowa, he earned a bachelor’s diploma in physics with honors and a grasp’s diploma in physics with honors from the College of California, Los Angeles. Cunningham was 36 years previous on the time of the launch of the Apollo 7 mission. Throughout the an an interview from NASA’s Workplace of Oral Historical past in 1999, he mirrored on his profession and motivations.

The crew of NASA's first manned flight

“I am a kind of individuals who by no means seemed again. I solely bear in mind it when somebody requested me after I grew to become an astronaut,” Cunningham stated. “All I bear in mind was simply retaining my nostril to the grindstone and desirous to do my finest — I did not notice on the time, but it surely was as a result of I at all times needed to be higher ready for the subsequent step. I’ve at all times seemed to the long run. I do not stay previously.”

Though he solely went into house as soon as, Cunningham grew to become the chief of NASA’s Skylab program, the primary US house station, which orbited the Earth from 1973 to 1979.

Earlier than becoming a member of NASA, Cunningham enlisted within the U.S. Navy and started coaching as a pilot in 1952, in keeping with his official NASA Biography and served as a fighter pilot with the US Marine Corps on 54 missions in Korea.

“The one factor I can bear in mind about changing into an astronaut, as a result of I checked out it, was that I grew to become certainly one of, if not the very best, fighter pilot on the earth,” Cunningham stated in an interview with NASA’s Oral Historical past Division.

Cunningham additionally earned a doctorate in physics from the College of California, Los Angeles with out finishing a thesis, and later in 1974 graduated from the Superior Administration Program on the Harvard Graduate Faculty of Enterprise, in keeping with NASA.

Cunningham testifies about space exploration during a hearing before the US Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Subcommittee on Space, Science and Competitiveness on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC on February 24, 2015.

Earlier than becoming a member of the astronaut corps, he labored as a physicist on the Rand Company, a non-profit navy assume tank.

Since leaving the house company, Cunningham has worn many hats in numerous roles within the personal sector. In line with his NASA biography, he held a lot of management positions at growth firms, labored as a marketing consultant for startups, grew to become an entrepreneur and investor, and finally grew to become a radio speak present host.

Within the years that adopted, Cunningham additionally grew to become an outspoken critic of prevailing concepts concerning the influence of local weather change on humanity.

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