Apollo 7 – Facts About Apollo’s Shakedown Flight
First Flight Of Apollo
The Apollo 7 flight was tasked with carrying out the objectives of the ill-fated Apollo 1 mission which occurred 21 months earlier. Apollo 7 would flight test the Command and Service Module (CSM) in Earth orbit, the Apollo procedures, assess extended life support systems and conditions. They would also demonstrate the CSM rendezvous capability; which would be essential for a manned mission to the Moon.
Fast Summary Facts About The Apollo 7 Mission!
- Mission Crew: Walter Schirra Jr., Walter Cunningham, Donn Eisele
- Mission Objective: Verify the systems of the new Apollo spacecraft
- Launch Date: 11th October, 1968
- Return Date: 20th October, 1968
- Mission Duration: 10 days, 20 hours, nine minutes, three seconds
- Distance Travelled: 7,317,556 kms (4,546,918 miles)
More Interesting Facts About The Apollo 7 Mission!
- Apollo 7 lifted off from its make-shift stand atop the Saturn IB (its first crewed flight), placing the astronauts in an elliptical orbit above Earth.
- The second stage stayed with the CSM for the first few orbits, then separated and Commander Schirra fired the CSM's small rockets to separate the craft. Practice rendezvous were performed over the coming days to simulate docking; as would be necessary to extract a Lunar Module (LM) from the upper stage as part of the spacecraft needed for a moon landing.
- Throughout the nearly 11 days in space, the Service Module (SM) engine performed brilliantly. There were eight perfect engine firings during their mission and during their first the crew got a real surprise, mentioning to ground control that "We didn't quite know what to expect, but we got more than we expected!”
- There were some minor issues reported with the visibility from the spacecraft windows due to condensation etc during the mission.
- Unfortunately for the astronauts 15 hours into the flight, Schirra, the Commander, developed a bad cold (with the other astronauts following soon after). A cold is uncomfortable enough on the ground, but in the weightlessness of space, it causes mucus to accumulate. So the crew orbited Earth over 150 times suffering from blocked ears and noses!
- Mutiny in Space? With astronauts having colds, this led to irritability and tense exchanges between the crew and Mission Control which ultimately meant Eisele and Cunningham were rejected for future missions (Schirra had already announced his retirement).
- Upon return to Earth, Apollo's flotation bags would be trialled as the capsule was considered a "lousy boat".
- Apollo 7 splashed down in the Atlantic as planned, only 2 kilometres from the planned impact point!
- The Apollo CSM spacecraft performed superbly during the mission, long enough for a Moon mission, with the systems in the spacecraft operating as they should.
- Apollo 7 accomplished its mission objectives, certifying that the CSM was ready for a trip to the moon which was authorized as the mission objective for the Apollo 8 mission!