Wally Schirra, Jr.
Author of: Real Space Cowboys
Wally Schirra, Jr. (born March 12, 1923 in Hackensack, New Jersey) was one of the original Mercury 7 astronauts chosen for the Project Mercury, America's first effort to put men in space. He was the only man to fly in America's first three space programs: Mercury, Gemini and Apollo and has logged a total of 295 hours and 15 minutes in space.
On October 3, 1962, Schirra became the fifth American in space, piloting the Mercury 8 (Sigma 7) on a six-orbit mission lasting 9 hours, 13 minutes, and 11 seconds. The capsule attained a velocity of 17,557 miles per hour and an altitude of 175 statute miles, and landed within four miles of the main Pacific Ocean recovery ship.
On December 15, 1965, Schirra flew into space a second time in Gemini 6A with Tom_Stafford, rendezvousing with astronauts Frank Borman and James Lovell, Jr. in Gemini 7. This was the first rendezvous of two manned spacecraft in orbit. The two vehicles, however, were not able to actually dock.
On October 11, 1968, Schirra flew into space a final time as commander of Apollo 7, the first manned flight in the Apollo program after a fatal fire during tests of Apollo 1. The three-man crew, including Donn Eisele and Walter Cunningham, performed rendezvous exercises with the upper stage of the Saturn 1-B launch vehicle and provided the first television pictures from a U.S. spacecraft.