Last Remaining Apollo 7 Astronaut Dead At 90

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Alexa Schwerha Contributor
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Walter Cunningham, the last surviving member of the Apollo 7 crew, died at the age of 90 Tuesday morning, NASA confirmed.

Cunningham died in the hospital “from complications of a fall, after a full and complete life,” the family’s spokesperson Jeff Carr said, according to NBC News. Cunningham was part of the three-person crew to orbit Earth during the 1968 Apollo 7 mission, which was broadcasted on live television less than one year before the moon landing. (RELATED: Apollo 14 Astronaut Dies, Only 7 Moonwalkers Still Alive)

“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 Administrator Bill Nelson said in the announcement. “NASA will always remember his contributions to our nation’s space program and sends our condolences to the Cunningham family.”

“We would like to express our immense pride in the life that he lived, and our deep gratitude for the man that he was – a patriot, an explorer, pilot, astronaut, husband, brother, and father,” the family said in a statement, according to NASA. “The world has lost another true hero, and we will miss him dearly.”

Walter Schirra, who passed away in 2007, and Donn Eisele, who passed in 1987, were also aboard Apollo 7. It was the first human flight test of the Apollo aircraft during which the crew “tested maneuvers necessary for docking and lunar orbit rendezvous,” according to NASA. The crew successfully completed eight tests in the aircraft before returning to Earth and landing in the Atlantic Ocean.

Prior to his Apollo 7 mission, Cunningham served in the United States Navy and on active duty in the Marine Corps before retiring as a Colonel, NASA reported. He flew more than 54 missions as a night fighter pilot in Korea and accumulated more than 4,500 hours of flight time during his career.

Cunningham was selected into NASA’s third astronaut class in 1963 and retired in 1971.

He received numerous awards during his lifetime, including the NASA Exceptional Service Medal and NASA Distinguished Service Medal, an induction 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. The crew won a special Emmy award for their broadcasted orbiNational Academy of Television Arts and Sciences Special Trustee Award at the Emmys.

NASA responded to the Daily Caller News Foundation’s request for comment by linking to their press release.

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