Astronauts Collins and Schirra With Engineer James Elm

Walter M. Schirra


Walter "Wally" Schirra was born in New Jersey on March 12th, 1923 and later became an American naval aviator and a NASA astronaut.

Captain Schirra was chosen as one of the original seven Mercury Astronauts in 1959. He flew the Mercury-Atlas 8 mission in 1962, which lasted nine hours and made six orbits around the Earth. Schirra next served as backup command pilot for the Gemini 3 mission and became the Command Pilot for the Gemini 6 flight. The highlight of this mission was a successful rendezvous of Gemini 6 with the already orbiting Gemini 7 spacecraft, accomplishing the first rendezvous of two manned maneuverable spacecraft.

Schirra also became the Command Pilot for Apollo 7 in 1968, with Command Module Pilot Donn F. Eisele and Lunar Module Pilot Walter Cunningham. The mission completed eight successful tests and maneuvering ignitions of the service module propulsion engine, measured the accuracy of performance of all spacecraft systems, and provided the first effective television transmission of on-board crew activities. After Apollo 7, he retired from the U.S. Navy and NASA as a captain. He was the only astronaut to fly in the Mercury, Gemini, and Apollo missions.