On This Day

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Apollo 7 lifts off

On This Day: First Manned Apollo Mission Launched

October 11, 2011 06:00 AM
by findingDulcinea Staff
On Oct. 11, 1968, Apollo 7 was launched, beginning an 11-day mission in Earth orbit.

The Apollo 7 Mission

The purpose of Apollo 7 was primarily to test the performance of the Apollo spacecraft in Earth orbit in order to prepare for future manned missions to the moon. It was launched at 11:02 a.m. from Cape Kennedy, Fla., with astronauts Wally Schirra, Donn Fulton Eisele and R. Walter Cunningham aboard.

Apollo 7 spent 11 days in space, completing 163 orbits of the Earth. The mission was considered a success; “Apollo 7 accomplished what it set out to do- qualifying the command and service module and clearing the way for the proposed lunar-orbit mission to follow,” according to NASA.

The information learned from Apollo 7 helped NASA launch the more ambitious Apollo 8 two months later, which became the first manned mission to leave Earth orbit and to complete an orbit of the moon. In July 1969, nine months after Apollo 7, NASA accomplished the goal of the Apollo program, putting two men on the moon in Apollo 11.

Background: Apollo 1

Apollo 7 was the first planned manned mission since the tragic failure of Apollo 1, which ended in January 1967 when three astronauts were killed in a cabin fire during a routine test on the launch pad.

NASA made many improvements to its capsules and safety procedures in preparation for Apollo 7. The success of Apollo 7 helped NASA recover from the Apollo 1 disaster.

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