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Fifty years ago today Apollo 7 was launched, the first manned mission in the Apollo programme and America's first flight in nearly two years, following the hiatus in the wake of the pad fire.


Wally Schirra, Walter Cunningham and Donn Eisele carried out a flawless eleven-day orbital checkout of the new Command & Service Module, essentially carrying out the mission that would have been flown by Grissom, White and Chaffee. Schirra became the only man to fly in Mercury, Gemini and Apollo, but it was to be his last flight: he was unhappy with the workload on what was an untested spacecraft, especially when the crew were asked to make TV broadcasts. Some described this as a mutiny in space; others look on it as him protecting his crew. but whatever the reason none of the astronauts would fly again.


However it was a huge step in putting the US space programme back on track. The next time American astronauts flew, they would go around the Moon.

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