1st Manned Apollo Mission
Apollo 7, the first manned Apollo launch, was an Earth-orbital
mission whose purpose was to check out all the systems before a lunar mission could be
The big test objective was a demonstration of long-duration
reliability to simulate a lunar mission that would consist of a 7 to 9 day
Prior to the launch of Apollo 7, all tests of the Apollo modules had
been unmanned and lasting less than one day.
The flight was crewed by
Walter "Wally" Schirra, Walter Cunningham, and Donn Eisele who also served as
backup crew for Apollo 1.
Apollo 7 was launched at 11:03 am EDT on October 11, 1968, from Launch Complex
34, Cape Canaveral Air Force Station. After 1.5 orbits, the CSM separated from
the S-IVB and the crew maneuvered the rockets to turn the CSM around and
approach the S-IVB for a successful simulated docking practice. During the
mission, the crew photographed many scenes of the earth such as Hurricane
Gladys as it churned through the Gulf of Mexico.
After entering the earth's atmosphere the automatic landing system went into
action, opening a pair of small drogue parachutes to stabilize the command
module. Then the three main chutes opened to slow the command module to
splashdown in the Atlantic Ocean at 7:11 AM EDT on October 22, 1968.
Pararescuemen attached the flotation collar to Apollo 7 after splashdown and
the crew was taken to the U.S.S. Essex.
Apollo 7 performed according to plan during the 11-day mission, causing NASA
officials to report a "101% successful" mission".
APOLLO 7 images in the Photo Gallery
Schirra's website - Apollo 7