(UnitedVoice.com) – On October 11, 1968, NASA launched Apollo 7 from Cape Canaveral in Florida. The mission was the first of its kind with human astronauts. Walt Cunningham, Donn Eisele, and Wally Schirra were the three men aboard the space shuttle. They’ve gone down in the history books for their decision to board the shuttle that hot fall day. Now, the last remaining crew member has passed away.
On January 3, NASA announced the death of 90-year-old Cunningham. The astronaut died in Houston earlier that day. According to the space agency, he and his other crewmates paved the way for the generation of astronauts we see today.
We mourn the loss of NASA astronaut Walter Cunningham, who flew into space on Apollo 7.
Cunningham and his crewmates left their mark on history, paving the way for future generations. We will always remember his contributions to human space flight. More: https://t.co/UuqSLI0wGw pic.twitter.com/swGYRv5rnD
— NASA's Johnson Space Center (@NASA_Johnson) January 5, 2023
Cunningham was born in 1932 in Creston, Iowa. His family moved to California, where he graduated from Venice High. In 1951, Cunningham joined the Navy and later served with the US Marines. He flew 54 missions as a night pilot in Korea and retired as a colonel. During his time in the military, he furthered his education, earning a bachelor’s degree, a master’s in physics, and eventually a doctorate.
In 1963, NASA chose the veteran to become part of its third astronaut class. He was the backup lunar module pilot for the Apollo 1 mission and then served on the prime crew for Apollo 2 before NASA canceled the mission. During the Apollo 7 mission, Cunningham served as the lunar module pilot. The flight into space lasted 11 days and paved the way for the mission to the moon a year later.
NASA published a statement from the Cunningham family. They expressed “immense pride” in the colonel’s life, saying they had a “deep gratitude” for his experience as a “patriot, an explorer, pilot, astronaut, husband, brother, and father.”
America is sending its condolences to the Cunningham family. The country has lost a hero, may he rest in peace.
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