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Walter Cunningham, a retired NASA astronaut and pilot of the first crewed flight of the space agency’s famous Apollo program, died early Tuesday morning at the age of 90, according to NASA. He said.
Cunningham was one of the first members of NASA’s human spaceflight program as a member of the third astronaut class, joining the space agency in 1963. He was selected to command Apollo 7, NASA’s first manned mission that later landed humans. on the moon for the first time.
The Cunningham family noted in a statement shared by NASA. “The world has lost another true hero, and he will be sorely missed.”
Launched in 1968 and lasting nearly 11 days, the Apollo 7 mission sent the crew on an orbital flight that was a test flight that could prove the Apollo capsule’s ability to take on other vehicles. spacecraft into orbit and pave the way for further exploration in the future. . Eliminates. He is also known for his participation in the first live television broadcast of Americans from space, according to NASA.
Cunningham was the last surviving member of the Apollo 7 crew, which also included astronauts Wally Schirra and Don Eisel.
Born in Creston, Iowa, earned a BA honors degree in physics and a master’s degree honors in physics from UCLA, Cunningham, he was 36 when the Apollo 7 mission lifted off. Interview with NASA Oral History Office in 1999, talks about his background and motivations.
“I’m one of those people who never looks back. I just remember when someone asked me after I became an astronaut,” Cunningham said. “All I remember is just keeping my nose on the grindstone and wanting to do my best — I didn’t realize it at the time, but it was because I always wanted to be better prepared for the next step. I always looked to the future. I don’t live in the past.”
Although he only ventured into outer space once, Cunningham became a pilot for NASA’s Skylab program, the first American space station to orbit Earth, from 1973 to 1979.
Before joining NASA, Cunningham joined the US Navy and began pilot training in 1952, he said. Official NASA biography, and served as a fighter pilot with the United States Marine Corps on 54 missions in Korea.
“The only thing I remember becoming an astronaut is seeing him become one of the best fighter pilots in the world, if not the best,” Cunningham said in an interview with the NASA Oral History Office.
Cunningham also completed a Ph. D. in physics from UCLA without completing a thesis, and then in 1974 completed an advanced management program at Harvard Graduate School of Business, according to NASA.
He worked as a physicist for the Rand Corporation, a nonprofit military think tank, before joining the astronaut crew.
After leaving the space agency, Cunningham donned many hats, taking on various roles in the private sector. According to his NASA bio, he has held various senior positions at development companies, advised startups, became an entrepreneur and investor, and eventually became a radio talk show host.
Over the next few years, Cunningham also became an outspoken critic of prevailing perceptions regarding humanity’s impact on climate change.
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