Human Spaceflights

International Flight No. 24

Apollo 7


Apollo 7 patch Apollo program patch

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Launch, orbit and landing data

Launch date:  11.10.1968
Launch time:  15:02:45.359 UTC
Launch site:  Cape Canaveral (KSC)
Launch pad:  34
Altitude:  231 - 297 km
Inclination:  31.63°
Landing date:  22.10.1968
Landing time:  11:11:48 UTC
Landing site:  27°32'30" N, 64°04' W

walkout photo

Crew Apollo 7

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alternative crew photo

alternative crew photo

alternative crew photo

alternative crew photo

alternative crew photo

alternative crew photo


No.   Surname Given names Position Flight No. Duration Orbits
1  Schirra  Walter Marty, Jr. "Wally"  CDR 3 10d 20h 09m 03s  163 
2  Eisele  Donn Fulton  CMP 1 10d 20h 09m 03s  163 
3  Cunningham  Ronnie Walter  LMP 1 10d 20h 09m 03s  163 

Crew seating arrangement

1  Schirra
2  Eisele
3  Cunningham
Apollo Command and Service Module
1  Schirra
2  Eisele
3  Cunningham

Backup Crew

No.   Surname Given names Position
1  Stafford  Thomas Patten "Tom"  CDR
2  Young  John Watts  CMP
3  Cernan  Eugene Andrew "Gene"  LMP
Crew Apollo 7 (backup)

alternative crew photo

Support Crew

  Surname Given names
 Swigert  John Leonard, Jr. "Jack"
 Evans  Ronald Ellwin, Jr. "Ron"
 Pogue  William Reid


Launch vehicle:  Saturn IB (SA-205)
Spacecraft:  Apollo (CSM-101)


Launch from Cape Canaveral and landing southeast of Bermuda Islands in the Atlantic Ocean. Apollo 7 was the only manned Apollo launch to take place from Cape Kennedy Air Force Station's Launch Complex 34. All subsequent Apollo and Skylab missions (including Apollo-Soyuz) were launched from Launch Complex 39 at the nearby Kennedy Space Center, and Launch Complex 34 was retired.

The Command Module (CM) was a conical pressure vessel with a maximum diameter of 3.9 m at its base and a height of 3.65 m. It was made of an aluminum honeycomb sandwich bonded between sheet aluminum alloy. The base of the CM consisted of a heat shield made of brazed stainless steel honeycomb filled with a phenolic epoxy resin as an ablative material and varied in thickness from 1.8 to 6.9 cm. At the tip of the cone was a hatch and docking assembly designed to mate with the lunar module. The CM was divided into three compartments. The forward compartment in the nose of the cone held the three 25.4 m diameter main parachutes, two 5 m drogue parachutes, and pilot mortar chutes for Earth landing. The aft compartment was situated around the base of the CM and contained propellant tanks, reaction control engines, wiring, and plumbing. The crew compartment comprised most of the volume of the CM, approximately 6.17 cubic meters of space. Three astronaut couches were lined up facing forward in the center of the compartment. A large access hatch was situated above the center couch. A short access tunnel led to the docking hatch in the CM nose. The crew compartment held the controls, displays, navigation equipment and other systems used by the astronauts. The CM had five windows: one in the access hatch, one next to each astronaut in the two outer seats, and two forward-facing rendezvous windows. Five silver/zinc-oxide batteries provided power after the CM and SM detached, three for re-entry and after landing and two for vehicle separation and parachute deployment. The CM had twelve 420 N nitrogen tetroxide/hydrazine reaction control thrusters. The CM provided the re-entry capability at the end of the mission after separation from the Service Module.
The Service Module (SM) was a cylinder 3.9 meters in diameter and 7.6 m long which was attached to the back of the CM. The outer skin of the SM was formed of 2.5 cm thick aluminum honeycomb panels. The interior was divided by milled aluminum radial beams into six sections around a central cylinder. At the back of the SM mounted in the central cylinder was a gimbal mounted re-startable hypergolic liquid propellant 91,000 N engine and cone shaped engine nozzle. Attitude control was provided by four identical banks of four 450 N reaction control thrusters each spaced 90 degrees apart around the forward part of the SM. The six sections of the SM held three 31-cell hydrogen oxygen fuel cells which provided 28 volts, two cryogenic oxygen and two cryogenic hydrogen tanks, four tanks for the main propulsion engine, two for fuel and two for oxidizer, and the subsystems the main propulsion unit. Two helium tanks were mounted in the central cylinder. Electrical power system radiators were at the top of the cylinder and environmental control radiator panels spaced around the bottom.

Apollo 7 marked the first NASA mission after the Apollo 1 launch pad fire. It was also the first crew of three American astronauts. The mission was a test flight of the modificated Apollo spacecraft. The crew performed rendezvous exercises with the upper stage of the Saturn 1-B launch vehicle and provided the first TV pictures from a U.S. spacecraft.

After launch at 15:02:45 UTC on October 11, 1968, The S-IVB/CSM was put into a 228 x 282 km Earth orbit. Venting of S-IVB propellants raised the orbit to 232 x 309 km over the next three hours, at which time the S-IVB stage was separated from the CSM. The S-IVB stage was then used for rendezvous maneuvers over the next two days.

All three astronauts developed a bad cold. Additionally, one of the three fuel cells supplying electricity to the craft developed some unwanted high temperatures and the coolant lines sweated and water collected in little puddles on the deck. The crew vacuumed the excess water out into space with the urine dump hose. Looking through the five capsule windows therefore was not good at the beginning of the mission; two of the windows had soot deposits and two others had water condensation, but a few days later the windows were adequate. So, the crew could perform observations and navigational sightings with a telescope and a sextant.

The bad cold of the astronauts caught another problem. Mucus accumulates, filling the nasal passages, and does not drain from the head. The only relief is to blow hard, which is painful to the ear drums. So, the crewmen of Apollo 7 whirled through space suffering from stopped up ears and noses. Aspirin and decongestant tablets helped during the mission. The next problem was indeed the landing, the crew began to worry about wearing their suit helmets during reentry, which would prevent them from blowing their noses. The buildup of pressure might burst their eardrums, several discussions followed and especially Commander Walter Schirra was adamant. At least, mission control “won” and the astronauts each took a decongestant pill about an hour before reentry and made it through the acceleration zone without any problems with their ears.

The most serious problem during reentry was the overheating of fuel cells, which might have failed when the spacecraft was too far from Earth to return on batteries, even if fully charged. But each anomaly was satisfactorily checked out before the next mission.

The crew was recovered by the USS Essex.

Photos / Graphics

Apollo spaceship Apollo Command Module
Apollo CSM Apollo control panel
crew in training Apollo 7 integration
Apollo 7 on launch pad Apollo 7 launch
Apollo 7 Apollo 7 S-IVB
Cunningham onboard Apollo 7 Mt. Everest
life onboard life onboard
Lake Chad Earth observation
Earth observation Apollo 7 landing
Apollo 7 recovery  

more Earth observation photos


Last update on August 11, 2020.