Today marks the 44th anniversary of Apollo 7's launch from the Cape Kennedy Air Force Station in Florida, the first US mission of the Apollo program to have astronauts aboard. Commander Walter Schirra, command module pilot Donn Eisele, and module pilot Walter Cunningham made up the first of many all-American crews in space. Apollo 7 paved the way for all the historic spaceflights that followed, like the moon landing, and to honor the mission's success, here are seven things you probably didn't know about Apollo 7, but really should.
- The crew won an Emmy award for their seven live nationwide television broadcasts in 1968, known as the "Walt, Wally, and Donn Show," from a part of the spacecraft the astronauts dubbed, "The Lovely Apollo Room High Atop Everything." The show was the first live TV broadcast from space during a manned space flight.
- The three-man crew all came down with head colds, which causes nasal congestion, headache, and runny nose. Needless to say, the astronauts weren't at their best and got a little snappy with Mission Control. As a result, NASA did not invite any of the men back for future spaceflights.
- Apollo 7 was the first NASA mission after the tragic Apollo 1 launchpad fire. The three astronauts aboard Apollo 1 — Virgil Grissom, Edward White, and Roger Chaffee — all died during the launchpad test preparing the vehicle for the first manned spaceflight.
- The spacecraft's mission was just a test. Apollo 7's objective was to perform a full in-space manned test of the main Apollo spacecraft and its equipment on board. The crew of the subsequent mission, Apollo 8, were the first humans to leave low Earth orbit and circle the moon, which paved the way for the crew of Apollo 11 to successfully land a man on the lunar surface.
- Apollo 7 orbited the Earth 163 times over the course of 10 days, 20 hours, and nine minutes. At the time, the crew aboard Apollo 7 spent more time in space than all the Soviet space missions combined.
- Meals aboard Apollo 7 included fruit cocktail, cinnamon toast, cocoa, chicken salad, gingerbread, apricot cereal cubes, pot roast, and butterscotch pudding. The fare was, of course, dehydrated, and made edible by adding water. Astronauts Walt, Wally, and Donn actually complained to The New York Times that their food was "too plentiful and too sweet."
- Apollo 7 landed in the Atlantic Ocean upside down. Upon returning back to Earth, the astronauts hung from their restraining belts for a few minutes before three inflated bags were activated to flip the spacecraft.
More trivia about Apollo 7 and its crew after the break.