Walter Cunningham (1932–2023), NASA astronaut on Apollo 7

Walter Cunningham was a NASA astronaut who flew to space on Apollo 7.

NASA and beyond

Cunningham joined the U.S. Navy in 1951, and after undergoing flight training, he became a fighter pilot in the U.S. Marine Corps. He remained in the Marine Corps Reserve until 1975, though he ended his active duty in 1956 and studied physics at UCLA. In 1963, Cunningham joined NASA. He was chosen for the 1968 Apollo 7 mission, the first crewed Apollo mission and an important step in preparations for the flight to the Moon. Designated the lunar module pilot even though the spacecraft didn’t include a lunar module, Cunningham was the last living astronaut from Apollo 7. He was the cameraman while the crew appeared in the first television broadcast from space.

After Apollo 7, Cunningham oversaw the Skylab branch of the Flight Crew Directorate before retiring from NASA in 1971. In later years, he was a businessman working in leadership at companies including 3D International and Hydrotech Development Corp.

 

Notable quote

“I definitely believe that we lived in the good old days. We lived in the golden age of manned spaceflight. …The days through Apollo will be remembered; there’ll never be another time like that again. Even when we go to Mars, it will be different. And I feel just fortunate that I was a small part of this particular time in spaceflight.” —from a 1999 oral history interview for NASA

Tributes to Walter Cunningham

Full obituary: The New York Times

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