Apollo 7

Article

October 20, 2021

Apollo 7 was an American manned space flight and the first manned mission of the Apollo Program. The flight marked the return of humans to space by the United States space program after the Apollo 1 fire in January 1967. The crew consisted of Walter Schirra, Donn Eisele and Walter Cunningham, with the three having been initially assigned to the second mission. from the program and then as Apollo 1 reserves. Space flights were suspended after the fire as investigations took place and improvements were implemented to the spacecraft and safety procedures, with unmanned tests having taken place. The three astronauts spent months in training and also long periods monitoring the construction of their Command and Service Module in order to prevent a fire-like accident. Schirra, Eisele, and Cunningham were launched into space on October 11, 1968 from Cape Kennedy Air Force Station, Florida, by a Saturn IB rocket, with the entire mission having lasted just under eleven days. The three performed several tests on the Command and Service Module and also the first television broadcast of a US spacecraft in history. There was great tension and conflict between the astronauts and Mission Control on the ground, but the mission was a success and it landed safely in the Atlantic Ocean on October 22nd. None of the crew returned to space again, partially due to these conflicts. Even so, Apollo 7 took a big step toward the ultimate goal of manned landing before the end of the decade and gave NASA confidence to send Apollo 8 to lunar orbit just two months later.

Background

The United States was in the middle of the Cold War, a geopolitical dispute with the Soviet Union, in the late 1950s and early 1960s. In October 1957, the Soviets launched Sputnik 1, the first artificial satellite in history. This caused fears around the world, as it demonstrated that the Soviet Union was capable of delivering nuclear weapons over intercontinental distances, while challenging the United States' claim to military, economic and technological superiority. This precipitated the Sputnik Crisis and started the Space Race, leading to the creation of NASA in 1958. US President John F. Kennedy believed that it was in the national interest of the United States to be superior to other nations, beyond the perception of American power was at least as important as reality. So it was intolerable for the Soviet Union to be more advanced in the field of space exploration. He determined that the United States should compete, looking for a challenge that would maximize its chances of victory. He chose such a project after consulting with experts and advisors: landing a man on the moon. NASA worked to achieve that goal incrementally, sending astronauts into space first in Project Mercury and then in Project Gemini, which preceded the Apollo Program. The first manned mission of the Apollo Program would be Apollo 1, consisting of astronauts Gus Grissom, Edward White and Roger Chaffee. However, the three were killed on January 27, 1967 when a fire broke out inside the spacecraft's cabin while conducting pre-launch tests. A complete security review for the Apollo Program followed. Apollo 7 became the new first manned mission under the new schedule and it was decided that it would use a Block II Command and Service Module, designed for lunar missions, as opposed to Block I, designed only for Earth-orbit missions, which would have been used on Apollo 1. The spacecraft and spacesuits were extensively redesigned with the aim of reducing the chance of a repeat of the accident that killed Grissom, White and Chaffee. Apollo 7 test

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