NASA introduced in the present day that astronaut Walter Cunningham, the final surviving member of the Apollo 7 mission, died Tuesday on the age of 90.
“Walt Cunningham was a fighter pilot, physicist, and an entrepreneur – but, above all, he was an explorer. On Apollo 7, the first launch of a crewed Apollo mission, Walt and his crewmates made history, paving the way for the Artemis Generation we see today. NASA will always remember his contributions to our nation’s space program and sends our condolences to the Cunningham family,” stated NASA Administrator Bill Nelson in a press release.
Born in Creston, Iowa in 1932, Cunningham joined the Navy in 1951 and have become a fighter pilot, serving on energetic obligation with the Marine Corps and flying 54 missions in Korea. By the time he retired from the Marine Corps Reserves in 1975, he had attained the rank of colonel.
After leaving energetic obligation in 1956, Cunningham attended UCLA the place he earned each a bachelor’s and a grasp’s diploma in physics. In his three years working for the Rand Corporation, he did labeled protection work, flying 40 completely different planes and accumulating greater than 4,500 hours of flight time. He then joined NASA as a member of its third class of astronauts.
Cunningham was chosen to be the backup lunar module pilot for the disastrous Apollo 1 mission and was imagined to be a part of the principle crew on Apollo 2, which was later canceled. What he’s finest identified for, although, is his function because the pilot of the 1968 Apollo 7 mission, which lasted for 11 days and was NASA’s first crewed mission within the Apollo program that culminated within the moon landings. Until he retired in 1971, Cunningham was in control of the Astronaut Office’s Skylab department.
During his profession, Cunningham earned each the NASA Exceptional Service Medal and NASA Distinguished Service Medal. He has additionally been inducted into the Astronaut Hall of Fame, International Space Hall of Fame, Iowa Aviation Hall of Fame, San Diego Air and Space Museum Hall of Fame, and Houston Hall of Fame.
“On behalf of NASA’s Johnson Space Center, we are beholden to Walt’s service to our nation and dedication to the advancement of human space exploration,” stated Vanessa Wyche, middle director, stated in a press release. “Walt’s accomplished legacy will continue to serve as an inspiration to us all.”