Ronnie Walter Cunningham
(Col, USMCR, Ret.)
(1932 – )
Missions: Apollo 7
Time in Space: 260 hours, 8 minutes
NASA astronaut Ronnie Walter “Walt” Cunningham was born on March 16, 1932, in Creston, Iowa. He enlisted in the United States Navy after high school, serving as a night fighter pilot with the United States Marine Corps during the Korean War. Cunningham subsequently earned a dual degree in physics from the University of California, Los Angeles.
Cunningham began his career with NASA in October 1963 when he selected to join the third group of astronauts. On October 11, 1968, he embarked on his first and only space mission: Apollo 7, the first manned flight of the Apollo spacecraft. While Cunningham served as Lunar Module Pilot, the spacecraft did not include the Lunar Module. Instead, he helped test the performance of all spacecraft systems and transmit the first live television broadcasts of onboard crew activities. Tensions between the crew and mission control during the mission, however, led NASA to reject Cunningham from future spaceflights. In total, he spent 260 hours and eight minutes in space.
Cunningham left NASA in 1971 to attend Harvard Business School, going on to work as a businessman and investor. He later served as the Chairman of the Texas Aerospace Commission.