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Walter Marty (Wally) Schirra Jr Status: Inactive. Trained as: Astronaut. Profession: Pilot. Sex: Male. Marital Status: Married. Children: Two. Birth Date: 12 March 1923. Birth City: Hackensack. Birth State: New Jersey. Birth Country: USA. Nationality: American. Group: 1959 NASA Group. Date Selected: 02 April 1959. Departed: 1969. Number of Flights: 3. Total Time: 12.30 days.

NAME: Walter M. Schirra

BIRTHPLACE AND DATE: Schirra was born in Hackensack, NJ, on March 12, 1923.

EDUCATION: Graduated United States Naval Academy in 1945

EXPERIENCE: Schirra received his Naval Flight Training at Pensacola Naval Air Station, Florida, in 1947. He served as a carrier-based fighter pilot and operations officer and then attended the Naval Test Pilot School at Patuxent River, Maryland. During the Korean War he flew 90 combat missions in the F-86 Sabre as an exchange pilot with the U. S. Air Force and received the Distinguished Flying Cross

NASA selected Schirra as one of the original seven Mercury astronauts in 1959. He flew on the fifth Project Mercury flight, orbiting the earth in his Sigma 7 capsule six times in 9 hours 13 minutes on Oct. 3, 1962. Following the fiasco of Carpenter’s preceding flight, he conducted a ‘textbook mission’, with minimal experiments.

Schirra commanded Gemini 6, flying with astronaut Tom Stafford. They were to have tracked down and docked with an Agena satellite, but the Agena exploded after lift-off on Oct. 25, 1965. Innovative planners decided Gemini 6 would rendezvous with Gemini 7, a 14-day endurance flight manned by Frank Borman and James Lovell. Gemini 7 was launched Dec. 4, 1965. Gemini 6 was to take off December 12 but was aborted when the Titan 2 booster rocket engine shut down after ignition. Schirra coolly did not pull the ejection handles and stayed on the live booster until it could be safed. Three days later, Schirra and Stafford were launched and the rendezvoused with Gemini 7. After five hours of formation spaceflight, Schirra moved away from Gemini 7. He and Cernan returned to earth the next day while Gemini 7 continued its gruelling flight.

Schirra was commander of Apollo 7 - the first flight test of the redesigned Apollo after the first crew died in the Apollo 1 launch pad fire on January 27, 1967. Following launch on October 11, 1968, the flight was a complete success and provided NASA with confidence to send the next Apollo crew into orbit around the moon. However the Schirra and his crew suffered head colds and had numerous arguments with ground controllers. NASA management secretly decided that none of them would be allowed to fly in space again.

Schirra had already decided to retire from the Navy and NASA before the mission. In 1969 he entered a new business career. He served as an officer and director of several companies and eventually formed his own consultant company, Schirra Enterprises.


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Last update 3 May 2001.
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