Walter M. Schirra
Walter M. Schirra
March 12, 1923 - May 3, 2007
Captain, U.S. Navy (Retired)
Born on March 12, 1923, Hackensack, NJ
Bachelor of Science, U.S. Naval Academy
About the Man
After graduating from high school in June 1940, Walter Schirra studied aeronautical engineering at the Newark College of Engineering (now the New Jersey Institute of Technology).
In 1942, Schirra was appointed to the United States Naval Academy and received a Bachelor of Science degree in 1945. From 1952 to 1954, he served as a test pilot at the Naval Ordnance Training Station at China Lake, California. That was where he first heard about the Mercury Program.
Schirra's special duty in Project Mercury was the development of environmental controls or life-support systems that would ensure the safety and comfort of the astronaut within the spacecraft during the mission. His responsibilities also included testing and making improvements to the pressurized suit worn by the astronauts.
Walter Schirra holds the distinction of being the only astronaut who participated in all three of NASA's early programs; Mercury, Gemini, and Apollo.
About the Spaceflights
Mercury 8 (Sigma)
Oct. 3, 1962
Walter Schirra chose the name Sigma for his capsule because it stands for 'engineering precision'. The flight of Mercury 8 was a six-orbit mission. During the flight, Schirra proved that an astronaut could carefully deal with the limited amounts of electricity and maneuvering fuel necessary for longer flights of a more complex nature.
Flight Duration: Nine Hours, Thirteen Minutes, and Eleven Seconds
Dec 15, 1965
The goal of Schirra's Gemini 6 mission was to perform the first rendezvous and docking between different spacecraft. In less than six hours after launching, Schirra and pilot astronaut Stafford completed a non-docking orbital rendezvous with astronauts Frank Borman and James A. Lovell, Jr., aboard Gemini 7. After sixteen orbits, Gemini 6 splashed down on December 1 in the Atlantic Ocean.
Flight Duration: Twenty-Five Hours, Fifty-One Minutes, and Twenty-Four Seconds
October 11-21, 1968
During the flight of Apollo 7, astronauts Schirra, Eisele, and Cunningham, tested the spacecraft's systems, specifically the systems that had been redesigned after the Apollo 1 fire.
They also performed rendezvous exercises with the upper stage of the Saturn launch vehicle and provided the first television pictures from a U.S. spacecraft.
Apollo splashed down in the Atlantic Ocean after 163 orbits.
Flight Duration: Ten days, twenty hours, nine minutes, and 3 seconds
Click on the patches to read about Walter Schirra's historic spaceflights
in more detail at NASA's Kennedy Space Center Website
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