Left to right: Eisele, Schirra, Cunningham
Apollo program ←
Apollo 8 →
APOLLO 7 was an October 1968 human spaceflight mission carried out by
the United States. It was the first mission in the United States'
Apollo program to carry a crew into space. It was also the first U.S.
spaceflight to carry astronauts since the flight of Gemini XII in
November 1966. The AS-204 mission , also known as "Apollo 1", was
intended to be the first manned flight of the Apollo program. It was
scheduled to launch in February 1967, but a fire in the cabin during a
January 1967 test killed the crew. Manned flights were then suspended
for 21 months, while the cause of the accident was investigated and
improvements made to the spacecraft and safety procedures, and
unmanned test flights of the
Saturn V rocket and Apollo Lunar Module
Apollo 7 fulfilled Apollo 1's mission of testing the Apollo
Command/Service Module (CSM) in low Earth orbit .
Apollo 7 crew was commanded by Walter M. Schirra , with senior
pilot / navigator
Donn F. Eisele
Donn F. Eisele , and pilot / systems engineer R.
Walter Cunningham . Official crew titles were made consistent with
those that would be used for the manned lunar landing missions: Eisele
was Command Module Pilot and Cunningham was Lunar Module Pilot. Their
mission was Apollo\'s \'C\' mission , an 11-day Earth-orbital test
flight to check out the redesigned Block II CSM with a crew on board.
It was the first time a
Saturn IB vehicle put a crew into space;
Apollo 7 was the first three-person American space mission, and the
first to include a live TV broadcast from an American spacecraft. It
was launched on October 11, 1968, from what was then known as Cape
Kennedy Air Force Station , Florida. Despite tension between the crew
and ground controllers, the mission was a complete technical success,
NASA the confidence to send
Apollo 8 into orbit around the Moon
two months later. The flight would prove to be the final space flight
for all of its three crew members—and the only one for both
Cunningham and Eisele—when it splashed down in the Atlantic Ocean on
October 22, 1968. It was also the only manned launch from Launch
Complex 34 , as well as the last launch from the complex.
* 1 Crew
* 1.1 Backup crew
* 1.2 Support crew
* 2 Background
* 3 Mission highlights
* 3.1 On-orbit operations
* 3.2 "Mutiny" in space
* 3.3 Reentry and post-flight evaluation
* 4 Mission insignia
* 5 Crew honors
* 6 Spacecraft location
* 7 Depiction in media
* 8 Gallery
* 9 See also
* 10 References
* 11 Bibliography
* 12 Further reading
* 13 External links
Walter M. Schirra
Third and last spaceflight
COMMAND MODULE PILOT
Donn F. Eisele
Donn F. Eisele
LUNAR MODULE PILOT
LUNAR MODULE PILOT was the official title used for the third pilot
position in Block II missions, regardless of whether the LM spacecraft
was present or not.
Thomas P. Stafford
Thomas P. Stafford
COMMAND MODULE PILOT
John W. Young
LUNAR MODULE PILOT
Eugene A. Cernan
The backup crew became the prime crew on
Apollo 10 .
Ronald E. Evans
William R. Pogue
John L. Swigert
Apollo 7's liftoff
Schirra, Eisele, and Cunningham were first named as an Apollo crew on
September 29, 1966. They were to fly a second Earth orbital test of
the original Block I Command/Service module (not designed to dock with
Apollo Lunar Module
Apollo Lunar Module for lunar flight) after
Apollo 1 , the first
manned flight, to be made by Virgil "Gus" Grissom , Edward H. White ,
Roger Chaffee . In December 1966, the second mission was deemed
redundant and canceled, and Schirra's crew were reassigned as
Plans for the first manned Apollo flights were completely disrupted
by the January 27, 1967 cabin fire which killed Grissom, White, and
Chaffee. Schirra, Eisele, and Cunningham were later named as prime
crew for the first manned flight, which would now use the Block II
spacecraft designed for the lunar missions. The Command Module (CM)
and astronauts' spacesuits had been extensively redesigned, to reduce
and eliminate the chance of a repeat of the accident which killed the
first crew. Schirra thus became the only astronaut to fly Mercury ,
Gemini and Apollo missions. His crew would test the life support,
propulsion, guidance and control systems during this "open-ended"
mission (meaning it would be extended as it passed each test). The
duration was limited to 11 days, reduced from the original 14-day
limit for Apollo 1. Since it flew in low Earth orbit and did not
include the Lunar Module (LM),
Apollo 7 was launched with the Saturn
IB booster rather than the much larger and more powerful
Saturn V .
Throughout the Mercury and Gemini programs, McDonnell Aircraft
Guenter Wendt had been leader of the spacecraft launch pad
teams, with ultimate responsibility for condition of the spacecraft at
launch. He earned the astronauts' respect and admiration, including
Schirra's. However, the spacecraft contractor had changed from
McDonnell (Mercury "> Close-up of the
S-IVB stage during rendezvous
maneuvers. Note the docking target inside the spacecraft adapter, and
how the right-hand panel is not fully opened to the same angle as the
The first manned American space flight in 22 months lifted from LC-34
UTC on Friday, October 11, 1968. Liftoff proceeded
Saturn IB performed well on its first manned launch
and there were no significant anomalies during the boost phase. The
astronauts described it as very smooth riding compared to the rough,
bumpy Titan II used to launch the Gemini spacecraft.
Following orbital injection and separation from the
S-IVB , the crew
turned the CSM around using its Reaction Control System thrusters, and
Eisele practiced a simulated Lunar Module rendezvous and docking,
using a visual reference target mounted inside the spacecraft adapter
in the same radial position it occupied on the LM. One of the adapter
panels on the
S-IVB failed to completely deploy to its 45 degree open
position, reminding CAPCOM Tom Stafford of his "angry alligator"
Gemini 9A , when docking was prevented by mis-deployed
adapter panels. Had this been an actual lunar mission, the astronauts
might have found the process of LM extraction from the adapter more
difficult, risking possible damage. This reinforced the decision to
add a system to completely separate and jettison the panels on all
Saturn V flights.
The Apollo hardware and all mission operations worked without any
significant problems, and the Service Propulsion System (SPS), the
all-important engine that would place Apollo into and out of lunar
orbit, made eight firings, performing within 1% of the engine
acceptance test thrust and specific impulse values. As the Saturn IB
itself had performed very smoothly during launch, the astronauts were
unprepared for the sudden violent jolt they received upon first
activating the SPS, leading to Schirra yelling "Yabbadabbadoo!" in
The Flintstones cartoon. Don Eisele called it "a real
boot in the rear."
An assortment of minor hardware problems occurred over the flight;
these included the drinking water hose trigger sticking during the
final two days, a momentary undervoltage of the main AC buses caused
by the automatic cryo fan switch in the service module LOX and LH2
tanks, and a loss of telemetry due to a malfunctioning electrical
commutator following SM jettison at the end of the mission, meaning
that the final 15 minutes of data transmission were lost. Aside from
the last event, which remained a mystery despite postflight testing of
the commutator, all of the problems on
Apollo 7 were quickly resolved
and some of them also involved equipment or procedures that would not
be used on subsequent missions.
Apollo promised the best food preparation yet seen on a manned
spacecraft. For the first time, astronauts had both hot and cold water
to prepare meals with (the food came in freeze-dried vacuum packs that
would be injected with water or else eaten dry followed by a sip of
water) and Wally Schirra, who had had only toothpaste-like tubes for
food on his Mercury flight , described the food as "Still does not
match home cooking, but it comes a lot closer than space food used
to." Thirty-three meals were provided for the three crewmen, allowing
them three meals a day for each of the 11 days in space. Even so, the
astronauts complained that there was more food than they could eat and
that most of it was too sweet, although the menus had been prepared
based on their personal preferences.
Early fears that the movement of the astronauts inside the CM would
make it hard for the spacecraft's attitude control system to stabilize
it proved unfounded, and they reported that motion was "incredibly
easy" with no gravity to work against. As sleeping in the fetal
position was cramping and painful, an exercise device called the
Exer-Genie was provided.
Another mission goal was the first live television broadcast from an
American spacecraft (
Gordon Cooper had transmitted slow scan
television pictures from Faith 7 in 1963, which were never broadcast).
It was initially scheduled for midday on day two, but Schirra was
concerned with the broadcast interfering with the rendezvous test.
"MUTINY" IN SPACE
Even though Apollo's larger cabin was more comfortable than Gemini's,
11 days in orbit took its toll on the astronauts. Tension with Schirra
began with the launch decision, when flight managers decided to launch
with a less-than-ideal abort option for the early part of the ascent.
Once in orbit, the spacious cabin may have induced some crew motion
sickness , which had not been an issue in the earlier, smaller
spacecraft. The crew were unhappy with their food selections,
especially the high energy sweets. They also found the waste
collection system cumbersome (requiring 30 minutes to use) and smelly.
But the worst problem occurred when Schirra developed a severe head
cold . As a result, he became irritable with requests from Mission
Control and all three astronauts began "talking back" to the CAPCOM.
An early example was this exchange after Mission Control requested
that a TV camera be turned on in the spacecraft: Walter Schirra
looks out the rendezvous window in front of the commander's station on
the ninth day of the mission
SCHIRRA: You've added two burns to this flight schedule, and you've
added a urine water dump; and we have a new vehicle up here, and I can
tell you at this point TV will be delayed without any further
discussion until after the rendezvous.
Jack Swigert ): Roger. Copy.
CAPCOM 1 (
Deke Slayton ): Apollo 7, this is CAPCOM number 1.
CAPCOM 1: All we've agreed to do on this is flip it.
SCHIRRA: ... with two commanders, Apollo 7
CAPCOM 1: All we have agreed to on this particular pass is to flip
the switch on. No other activity is associated with TV; I think we are
still obligated to do that.
SCHIRRA: We do not have the equipment out; we have not had an
opportunity to follow setting; we have not eaten at this point. At
this point, I have a cold. I refuse to foul up our time lines this
A further source of tension between Mission Control and the crew was
that Schirra repeatedly expressed the view that the reentry should be
conducted with their helmets off, contrary to previous Project Mercury
and Gemini experience. They perceived a risk that their eardrums might
burst due to the sinus pressure from their colds, and they wanted to
be able to pinch their noses and blow to equalize the pressure as it
increased during reentry. This would have been impossible wearing the
helmets, as the new Apollo helmets were a continuous "fishbowl" type
without a moveable visor, unlike previous helmets. However, on
repeated occasions over the course of the mission, Schirra was
instructed that the helmets should be worn for safety reasons. In the
final exchange on the subject, Mission Control made it clear to
Schirra that he would be expected to account for flouting
CAPCOM Number 1 (Deke Slayton): Okay. I think you ought to clearly
understand that there is absolutely no experience at all with landing
without the helmet on.
SCHIRRA: And there is no experience with the helmet either on that
CAPCOM: That one we've got a lot of experience with, yes.
SCHIRRA: If we had an open visor, I might go along with that.
CAPCOM: Okay. I guess you better be prepared to discuss in some
detail when we land why we haven't got them on. I think you're too
late now to do much about it.
SCHIRRA: That's affirmative. I don't think anybody down there has
worn the helmets as much as we have.
SCHIRRA: We tried them on this morning.
CAPCOM: Understand that. The only thing we're concerned about is the
landing. We couldn't care less about the reentry. But it's your neck,
and I hope you don't break it.
SCHIRRA: Thank you, babe.
CAPCOM: Over and out.
Exchanges such as this led to Eisele and Cunningham being rejected
for future missions (Schirra had already announced his impending
retirement from NASA). If
Apollo 7 was a mutiny, the
could be compared to a full-blown rebellion, alternatively some have
downplayed these as "strikes" or workplace tension, or simply the
intricacies of working out the spaceflight workplace and planning
environment. After Skylab, those "mutineer" astronauts did not fly
again either, but neither did the most of the other astronauts in the
NASA did not do another long duration space-flight of
more than a couple weeks or so for over 25 years (see Shuttle–Mir
REENTRY AND POST-FLIGHT EVALUATION
The splashdown point was 27°32′N 64°04′W / 27.533°N
64.067°W / 27.533; -64.067 , 200 nautical miles (370 km) SSW of
Bermuda and 7 nmi (13 km) north of the recovery ship USS Essex .
Despite the difficulties between the crew and Mission Control, the
mission successfully met its objectives to verify the Apollo Command
and Service Modules' flight worthiness, allowing Apollo 8's flight to
Moon to proceed just two months later.
Apollo 7 was Project
Apollo's only human spaceflight mission to launch from Cape Kennedy
Air Force Station's Launch Complex 34 . All subsequent Apollo and
Skylab spacecraft flights (including Apollo–Soyuz ) were launched
from Launch Complex 39 at the nearby
Kennedy Space Center
Kennedy Space Center . Launch
Complex 34 was declared redundant and decommissioned in 1969, making
Apollo 7 the last human spaceflight mission to launch from the Cape
Air Force Station in the 20th century. As of January 2017, Cunningham
is the only surviving member of the crew. Eisele died in 1987 and
Schirra in 2007.
Apollo 7 Flown Robbins medallion
The insignia for the flight shows a Command and Service module with
its SPS engine firing, the trail from that fire encircling a globe and
extending past the edges of the patch symbolizing the Earth-orbital
nature of the mission. The Roman numeral VII appears in the South
Pacific Ocean and the crew's names appear on a wide black arc at the
bottom. The patch was designed by Allen Stevens of Rockwell
After the mission,
NASA awarded Schirra, Eisele, and Cunningham its
Exceptional Service Medal in recognition of their success. On November
2, 1968, President
Lyndon Johnson held a ceremony at the
LBJ Ranch in
Johnson City, Texas, to present the astronauts with the medals. He
also presented NASA's highest honor, the Distinguished Service Medal ,
to recently retired
NASA administrator James E. Webb, for his
"outstanding leadership of America's space program" since the
beginning of Apollo.
Schirra, Eisele, and Cunningham were the only crew, of all the
Skylab , and
Apollo-Soyuz Test Project
Apollo-Soyuz Test Project missions, who had not
been awarded the Distinguished Service Medal immediately following
their missions (though Schirra had received the medal twice before,
for his Mercury and Gemini missions). Therefore,
Michael D. Griffin
Michael D. Griffin decided to belatedly award the medals to the crew
in October 2008, "or exemplary performance in meeting all the Apollo 7
mission objectives and more on the first manned Apollo mission, paving
the way for the first flight to the
Apollo 8 and the first
manned lunar landing on Apollo 11." Only Cunningham was still alive at
the time; Eisele's widow accepted his medal, and
Apollo 8 crew member
Bill Anders accepted Schirra's. Other Apollo astronauts, including
Neil Armstrong ,
Buzz Aldrin , and
Alan Bean , were present at the
award ceremony. Former Flight Director
Christopher C. Kraft, Jr. , who
had been in conflict with the crew during the mission, sent a
conciliatory video message of congratulations, saying: "We gave you a
hard time once but you certainly survived that and have done extremely
well since ... I am frankly, very proud to call you a friend."
Apollo 7 Command Module as exhibited at The Frontiers of
In January 1969, the
Apollo 7 Command Module was displayed on a NASA
float in the inauguration parade of President
Richard M. Nixon
Richard M. Nixon . For
nearly 30 years the Command Module was on loan (renewable every two
years) to the National Museum of Science and Technology , in
Ontario , along with the space suit worn by
Wally Schirra . In
November 2003, the
Smithsonian Institution in Washington, D.C.,
requested them back for display at their new annex at the Steven F.
Udvar-Hazy Center . Currently, the
Apollo 7 CM is on loan to the
Frontiers of Flight Museum located next to Love Field in Dallas ,
DEPICTION IN MEDIA
Barbara Eden ,
Bob Hope , Eisele, Cunningham, Schirra, and
"voice of Mission Control" Paul Haney , on The
Bob Hope Show
On November 6, 1968, comedian
Bob Hope broadcast one of his variety
television specials from NASA's Manned Spacecraft Center in Houston to
Apollo 7 crew. Barbara Eden, star of the popular comedy
I Dream of Jeannie
I Dream of Jeannie , which featured two fictional astronauts
among its regular characters, appeared with Schirra, Eisele and
Schirra parlayed the head cold he contracted during
Apollo 7 into a
television advertising contract as a spokesman for
Actifed , an over
the counter version of the medicine he took in space.
Apollo 7 mission is dramatized in the 1998 miniseries From the
Earth to the
Moon episode "We Have Cleared the Tower", with Mark
Harmon as Schirra, John Mese as Eisele,
Fredric Lehne as Cunningham,
Max Wright as Wendt.
A documentary, The Log of Apollo 7, has been restored from 16 mm film
and posted online.
The crew during water egress training
Apollo 7 in flight
S-IVB rocket stage in orbit
Distant view of the
View of Florida from
A crewmember being hoisted into the recovery helicopter
The crew is welcomed aboard the USS Essex
Crew after recovery aboard USS Essex
List of Apollo missions
List of Apollo missions
Timeline of longest spaceflights
This article incorporates public domain material from websites or
documents of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration .
* ^ Orloff, Richard W. (September 2004) . "Table of Contents".
Apollo by the Numbers: A Statistical Reference.
NASA History Division,
Office of Policy and Plans.
NASA History Series. Washington, D.C.:
NASA . ISBN 0-16-050631-X . LCCN 00061677 .
Archived from the original on August 23, 2007. Retrieved July 6, 2013.
* ^ "
Apollo 7 Mission Report" (PDF). Washington, D.C.: NASA.
December 1, 1968. p. A-47.
* ^ McDowell, Jonathan. "SATCAT". Jonathan's Space Pages. Retrieved
March 23, 2014.
* ^ A B Watkins, Thomas (May 3, 2007). "Astronaut Walter Schirra
dies at 84".
Valley Morning Star . Harlingen, Texas. Associated Press
. Retrieved October 4, 2013.
* ^ Karrens, Ed (Announcer) (1968). "1968 Year in Review: 1968 in
Space". UPI.com (Radio transcript).
E. W. Scripps . United Press
International . Retrieved July 6, 2013.
* ^ A B C Portree, David S. F. (September 16, 2013). "A Forgotten
Rocket: The Saturn IB". Wired . New York:
Condé Nast . Retrieved
October 4, 2013.
* ^ Pearlman, Robert Z. (May 3, 2010). "Guenter Wendt, 86, \'Pad
Leader\' for NASA\'s moon missions, dies". collectSPACE . Robert
Pearlman. Retrieved June 12, 2014.
* ^ A B C Farmer & Hamblin 1970 , pp. 51–54
* ^ Ryba, Jeanne (8 July 2009). "Apollo 7". NASA. Retrieved 27 May
* ^ A B C D Wade, Mark. "Apollo 7".
Encyclopedia Astronautica .
Retrieved October 24, 2008.
* ^ "
Apollo 7 Mission Report" (PDF). NASA. December 1, 1968. pp.
* ^ Steven-Boniecki 2010 , pp. 55–58
* ^ "Schirra rules no telecast". The
Windsor Star . Windsor,
Ontario. United Press International. October 12, 1968. p. 1. Retrieved
October 6, 2013.
* ^ "
Apollo 7 Air-to-Ground Voice Transcriptions" (PDF). NASA. pp.
117–118. Retrieved October 24, 2008.
* ^ "
Apollo 7 Air-to-Ground Voice Transcriptions" (PDF). NASA. p.
1170. Retrieved May 27, 2017.
* ^ A B C Pearlman, Robert Z. (October 20, 2008). "First Apollo
flight crew last to be honored". collectSPACE. Robert Pearlman.
Retrieved June 12, 2014.
* ^ The Air Force Station was originally named Cape Canaveral, but
the name was changed to Cape Kennedy by President Lyndon B. Johnson
shortly after President
John F. Kennedy
John F. Kennedy 's death in November 1963. The
name Canaveral was reverted in 1973.
* ^ Hengeveld, Ed (May 20, 2008). "The man behind the
patches". collectSPACE. Robert Pearlman. Retrieved July 6, 2013. "A
version of this article was published concurrently in the British
Interplanetary Society 's Spaceflight magazine." (June 2008; pp.
* ^ Speech given by President
Lyndon B. Johnson
Lyndon B. Johnson addressed to the
astronauts of the
Apollo 7 flight. See site for the full account of
the recorded speech. Retrieved December 8, 2014.
* ^ "40th Anniversary of Mercury 7: Walter Marty Schirra, Jr.".
* ^ The Log of
Apollo 7 on YouTube
* Farmer, Gene; Hamblin, Dora Jane; Armstrong, Neil ; Collins,
Michael ; Aldrin, Edwin E., Jr. (1970). First on the Moon: A Voyage
with Neil Armstrong, Michael Collins, Edwin E. Aldrin, Jr. Epilogue by
Arthur C. Clarke
Arthur C. Clarke (1st ed.). Boston:
Little, Brown and Company
Little, Brown and Company . ISBN
0-71-810736-5 . LCCN 76103950 .
OCLC 71625 .
* Steven-Boniecki, Dwight (2010). Live TV From the Moon. Burlington,
Apogee Books . ISBN 978-1-926592-16-9 .
OCLC 489010199 .
* Lattimer, Dick (1985). All We Did Was Fly to the Moon.
History-alive series. 1. Foreword by
James A. Michener
James A. Michener (1st ed.).
Alachua, FL: Whispering Eagle Press. ISBN 0-9611228-0-3 . LCCN
* Schirra, Wally ; Billings, Richard N. (1988). Schirra's Space.
Blujacket Books. Annapolis, MD: Naval Institute Press . ISBN
1-55750-792-9 . LCCN 95024817 .