The final Apollo 7 astronaut, Walter Cunningham, has died on the age of 90

Walter Cunningham, the final surviving astronaut of the primary profitable manned area mission in NASA’s Apollo program, died Tuesday in Houston. He was 90 years outdated.

NASA confirmed Cunningham’s demise in a press release, however didn’t say the trigger. Cunningham died in hospital “from problems of a fall, after a full and full life,” his household stated via spokesman Jeff Carr.

Cunningham was considered one of three astronauts aboard the 1968 Apollo 7 mission, an 11-day spaceflight that broadcast reside tv as they orbited the Earth, setting the stage for the moon touchdown lower than a yr later.

Cunningham, then a civilian, crewed the mission with Marine Captain Walter M. Schera and Don F. Eisell, an Air Drive main. Cunningham was the lunar module pilot on the spaceflight, which lifted off from Cape Kennedy Air Drive Station, Florida, on Oct. 11 and landed within the Atlantic Ocean south of Bermuda.

NASA stated Cunningham, Ezell and Shira flew a near-complete mission. Their spacecraft carried out so nicely that the company despatched the following crew, Apollo 8, to orbit the Moon in preparation for the Apollo 11 moon touchdown in July 1969.

NASA Administrator Invoice Nelson stated Tuesday that Cunningham was “above all” an explorer whose work additionally laid the groundwork for the company’s new moon Artemis program.

The Apollo 7 astronauts additionally received a Particular Emmy Award for his or her each day televised experiences from orbit, trolling round, elevating humorous indicators, and educating Earthlings about spaceflight.

This was NASA’s first manned area mission for the reason that deaths of the three Apollo 1 astronauts in a fireplace on the launch pad on January 27, 1967.

Cunningham recalled Apollo 7 throughout a 2017 occasion at Kennedy House Middle, saying that it “enabled us to beat all of the hurdles we confronted after the Apollo 1 fireplace and develop into the longest and most profitable check flight ever.”

Born in Creston, Iowa, Cunningham attended highschool in California earlier than enlisting within the Navy in 1951 and serving as a Marine. A pilot in Korea, in response to NASA. He later earned bachelor’s and grasp’s levels in physics from UCLA, the place he additionally did doctoral research, and labored as a scientist on the Rand Company earlier than becoming a member of NASA.

In an interview a yr earlier than his demise, Cunningham recalled rising up poor and dreaming of flying planes, not spaceships.

“We by no means knew there have been astronauts once I was rising up,” Cunningham instructed The Spokesman-Evaluation.

After retiring from NASA in 1971, Cunningham labored in engineering, enterprise, and funding, and have become a public speaker and radio host. He wrote a memoir about his profession and time as an astronaut, entitled All-American Boys. He additionally expressed skepticism in his later years in regards to the contribution of human exercise to local weather change, contradicting the scientific consensus in writing and public talking, whereas acknowledging that he’s not a local weather scientist.

Though Cunningham didn’t fly one other area mission after Apollo 7, he remained a supporter of area exploration. He instructed a Spokane, Washington newspaper final yr, “I feel people must hold increasing and pushing the degrees at which they reside in area.”

Cunningham is survived by his spouse, Dot, sister, Kathy Cunningham, and sons, Brian and Kimberly. In a press release, the Cunningham household stated: “The world has misplaced one other true hero and he will likely be drastically missed.

(AP)

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