APOLLO 7

The first manned flight of the Apollo Program was accomplished by Walter Cunningham, Walter Schirra, and Donn Eisele in this spacecraft from October 11 to 22, 1968.

Following the tragic launch pad fire in the Apollo 1 mission command module on January 27, 1967 that killed astronauts Virgil “Gus” Grissom, Edward H. White and Roger B. Chaffee, a major delay was placed on the Apollo Program pending the results of an extensive series of design, engineering, manufacturing and safety reviews.  As a result of these investigations, the Apollo command module underwent many design changes which were incorporated into the Block II series command modules. Among the changes was a single quick-operating outward opening crew hatch which replaced the two-piece hatch; the new aluminum and fiberglass hatch could be opened in a matter of seconds by both the crew and pad safety crew.  In addition, the launch pad spacecraft cabin atmosphere for pre-launch testing was changed from 100% oxygen to a mixture of 60% oxygen and 40% nitrogen, a mixture that was selected after extensive flammability testing.

The  Apollo 7 mission was the first manned Apollo flight and the first one to use the Block II command module.  All of the systems and procedures required for the moon mission were flight-tested for the first time with this vehicle during its 163 Earth orbits in 10 days 20 hours and 9 minutes, traveling a total distance of 4,539,959 miles.

This spacecraft is on loan from The National Air & Space Museum, Smithsonian Institution, Washington, D.C.