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NASA Biography
Walter Cunningham, Apollo VII LMP
Walter Cunningham is perhaps best known as America's second civilian astronaut.

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On October 11, 1968, he occupied the lunar module pilot seat for the eleven-day flight of Apollo 7 - the first manned flight test of the third generation United States spacecraft. With Walter M. Schirra, Jr., and Donn F. Eisele, Cunningham participated in and executed maneuvers enabling the crew to perform exercises in transposition and docking and lunar orbit rendezvous with the S-IVB stage of their Saturn IB launch vehicle; completed eight successful test and maneuvering ignitions of the service module propulsion engine; measured the accuracy of performance of all spacecraft systems; and provided the first effective television transmission of onboard crew activities.

The 263-hour, four-and-a-half million mile shakedown flight was successfully concluded on October 22, 1968, with splashdown occurring in the Atlantic - some eight miles from the carrier ESSEX (only 3/10 of a mile from the originally predicted aiming point).

Prior to his assignment to the Apollo 7 crew, Cunningham was the backup Lunar Module Pilot to the crew of Apollo 1. When the Apollo 1 spacecraft burned up on the pad, killing the entire crew, Cunningham, Schirra, and Eisele were assigned to fly the first manned Apollo mission.

Mr. Cunningham's last assignment at the Johnson Space Center was as Chief of the Skylab Branch of the Fight Crew Directorate. In this capacity he was responsible for the operational inputs for five major pieces of manned space hardware, two different boosters and 65 major on-board experiments that comprised the Skylab program. The Skylab program also utilized the first manned systems employing arrays for electrical power, molecular sieves for environmental control systems, and inertia storage devices for attitude control systems.

He worked as a scientist for the RAND Corporation prior to joining NASA. While with RAND, he worked on classified defense studies and problems of the earth's magnetosphere.

Mr. Cunningham joined the Navy in 1951 and began his flight training in 1952. In 1953 he became a Marine Corps fighter pilot and served on active duty with the United States Marine Corps until August 1956 and in the Marine Corps Reserve program until 1975. His present rank is Colonel, USMCR (Retired).

He has accumulated more than 4,500 hours of flying time, including more than 3,400 in jet aircraft and 263 hours in space.

Currently, Mr. Cunningham is a successful businessman, investor and Director of numerous public and private companies. He is author of The All American Boys, the human side of the space program. He is a radio talk show host and frequent lecturer throughout the United States, Europe and Asia. He is a civic leader, is listed in all major Who's Who publications and is a recipient of numerous national and international honors.



University of California at Los Angeles (Physics), B.S., 1960, with honors; M.S., 1961, with distinction.

Institute of Geophysics And Planetary Sciences, completed work on Doctorate in physics with exception of thesis.

NASA, (Space Sciences and Geology), 2,000 hours, 1963-1971.

Harvard Graduate School of Business 1974. AMP



Associate Fellow of the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics
Fellow of the American Astronautical Society
Member of the Society of Experimental Test Pilots
Member of the American Geophysical Union
Explorers Club
Sigma Pi Sigma and Sigma Xi
Chairman of UCLA Alumni Fund Drive, 1969 and 1970
Aviation Subcommittee, Houston Chamber of Commerce
Advisory Board, The Edward Teller Center For Science, Technology And Political  Thought
Member of the Houston American Revolution Bicentennial Commission

Founding Director, Earth Awareness Foundation

Special Honors:

Named to the Astronaut Hall of Fame
Awarded the NASA Exceptional Service Medal and Navy Astronaut Wings
Awarded the NASA Distinguished Service Medal
Recipient of the AIAA 1969 Haley Astronautics Award
Presented the UCLA Alumni Professional Achievement Award for 1969
Academy of Television Arts and Sciences Special Trustee Award (Emmy) (1969)
American Legion Medal of Valor

Outstanding American Award of the American Conservative Union, 1975
Named to the International Space Hall of Fame
Houston Hall of Fame
Judge for the 1984 Rolex Awards for Enterprise
Listed in Who's Who in America, Who's Who in the World, Who's Who in Aviation and other similar publications.

  • American Astronautical Society
  • American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics; Member
  • Selection Committee for the 1984 Rolex Awards for Enterprise
  • Society of Experimental Test Pilots
  • National Association of Small Business Investment Companies
  • Association of Space Explorers
  • American Geophysical Union
  • Sigma Pi Sigma
  • Explorers Club
  • Numerous other professional and civic organizations.


"Importance of the Observation That Stars Don't Twinkle Outside the Earth's Atmosphere" (with L. Marshall Libby)

The All American Boys (Macmillan, 1977; Ibooks, 2003), the human side of the space program.

Articles for various magazines, technical journals and newspapers.