Walter Cunningham’s cause of death: What really happened to the Apollo 7 astronaut?

Walter Cunninghamthe last surviving astronaut of NASA’s first successful manned space mission Apollo program, died Tuesday in Houston. He was 90 years old.

NASA confirmed Cunningham’s death in a statement, but did not say the cause. His family said through a speaker, Jeff Carrthat Cunningham died in hospital “from complications of a fall, after a full and full life”.

Cunningham was one of three astronauts aboard the 1968 Apollo 7 mission, an 11-day spaceflight that broadcast live television as they orbited the Earth, setting the stage for the moon landing less than a year later.

Cunningham, then a civilian, crewed the mission with Marine Captain Walter M. Schera and Don F. Eisell, an Air Force major. Cunningham was the lunar module pilot on the spaceflight, which lifted off from Cape Kennedy Air Force Station, Florida, on Oct. 11 and landed in the Atlantic Ocean south of Bermuda.

NASA Cunningham said, Ezel and ShiraHe flew on an almost complete mission. Their spacecraft performed so well that the agency sent the next crew, Apollo 8, to orbit the Moon in preparation for the Apollo 11 moon landing in July 1969.

NASA Administrator Bill Nelson said Tuesday that Cunningham was “above all” an explorer whose work also laid the groundwork for the agency’s new moon Artemis program.

The Apollo 7 astronauts also won a Special Emmy Award for their daily televised reports from orbit, trolling around, raising humorous signs, and educating Earthlings about spaceflight.

This was NASA’s first manned space mission since the deaths of the three Apollo 1 astronauts in a fire on the launch pad on January 27, 1967.

Cunningham recalled Apollo 7 during a 2017 event at Kennedy Space Center, saying it “enabled us to overcome all the hurdles we faced after the Apollo 1 fire and become the longest successful test flight of any flying machine ever.”

Born in Creston, Iowa, Cunningham attended high school in California before enlisting in the Navy in 1951 and serving as a Marine. A pilot in Korea, according to NASA. He later earned bachelor’s and master’s degrees in physics from UCLA, where he also did doctoral studies, and worked as a scientist at the Rand Corporation before joining NASA.

Cunningham grew up poor and dreamed of airplanes

In an interview a year before his death, Cunningham recalled growing up poor and dreaming of flying planes, not spaceships.

“We didn’t know there were astronauts when I was growing up,” Cunningham told The Spokesman-Review.

After retiring from NASA in 1971, Cunningham worked in engineering, business, and investment, and became a public speaker and radio host. He wrote a memoir about his career and time as an astronaut called All-American Boys. He also expressed skepticism in his later years about the contribution of human activity to climate change, contradicting the scientific consensus in writing and public speaking, while admitting that he is not a climate scientist.

Although Cunningham did not fly another space mission after Apollo 7, he remained a supporter of space exploration. He told a Spokane, Washington newspaper last year, “I think humans need to continue to expand and push the levels at which they live in space.”

Cunningham is survived by his wife, Dot, sister, Kathy Cunningham, and sons, Brian and Kimberly. “The world has lost another true hero and he will be greatly missed,” the Cunningham family said in a statement.

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