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Encyclopedia > Walter Schirra

Walter Marty Schirra, Jr. (born March 12, 1923 in Hackensack, New Jersey) was one of the original Mercury 7 astronauts chosen for the Project Mercury, America's first effort to put men in space. He was the only man to fly in America's first three space programs: Mercury, Gemini and Apollo and has logged a total of 295 hours and 15 minutes in space.

On October 3, 1962, Schirra became the fifth American in space, piloting the Mercury 8 (Sigma 7) on a six-orbit mission lasting 9 hours, 13 minutes, and 11 seconds. The capsule attained a velocity of 17,557 miles per hour and an altitude of 175 statute miles, and landed within four miles of the main Pacific Ocean recovery ship.

On December 15, 1965, Schirra flew into space a second time in Gemini 6A with Tom_Stafford, rendezvousing with astronauts Frank Borman and James Lovell, Jr. in Gemini 7. This was the first rendezvous of two manned spacecraft in orbit. The two vehicles, however, were not able to actually dock.

On October 11, 1968, Schirra flew into space a final time as commander of Apollo 7, the first manned flight in the Apollo program after a fatal fire during tests of Apollo 1. The three-man crew, including Donn Eisele and Walter Cunningham, performed rendezvous exercises with the upper stage of the Saturn 1-B launch vehicle and provided the first television pictures from a U.S. spacecraft.


  • Wally Schirra & Richard N. Billings, "Schirra's Space", 1995 ISBN 1-55750-792-9
  • Robert Godwin "Sigma 7: The NASA Mission Reports", 2003 ISBN 1-894959-01-9
  • Robert Godwin "Gemini 6: The NASA Mission Reports", 2000 ISBN 1-896522-61-0
  • Robert Godwin "Apollo 7: The NASA Mission Reports", 2000 ISBN 1-896522-64-5

  Results from FactBites:
40th Anniversary of Mercury 7: Walter Marty Schirra, Jr. (2132 words)
Schirra is married to the former Josephine Cook "Jo" Fraser of Seattle, Washington, the step-daughter of Admiral James L. Holloway (USN, Ret.) who was Commander-in-Chief of the Northeastern Atlantic and Mediterranean area.
Schirra retired from the Navy as a captain and resigned from NASA on July 1, 1969, to become president of Regency Investors Incorporated, a major financial complex and worldwide leasing company based in Denver, Colorado.
Schirra received numerous honors and awards while in the service of the United States Navy and NASA including; honorary Doctorate of Astronautical Engineering from Lafayette College; honorary Doctorate of Astronautics from the Newark College of Engineering; and an honorary Doctorate of Science from the University of Southern California.
WallySchirra.Com - Mercury VIII - Sigma 7 (587 words)
Schirra was named as one of the "Original Seven" Mercury Astronauts on April 9, 1959.
Schirra, Shepard and Carpenter were from the Navy; Grissom, Cooper, and Slayton were from the Air Force; and Glenn was from the Marine Corps.
Schirra's special responsibility 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.
  More results at FactBites »



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