Kuiper keeps those cards and letters coming in.
On Oct 11, 1968, Apollo 7 blasted off with Wally Schirra, Walt Cunningham and Donn Eisele aboard. Their mission lasted nearly 11 days. Although they achieved all objectives, they didn’t particularly enjoy their time in orbit. As a result, this would be Wally’s last flight, and Walt and Donn’s only flight.
This was the first time astronauts had both hot and cold water for food prep in space. Though coffee wouldn’t officially make an appearance on mission menus until Apollo 11, Wally insisted on bringing some anyway(1). However, it didn’t keep him from being grumpy. He had a bad head cold (which he shared with his crewmates.)
In addition, some of their equipment started falling apart, e.g. one of Wally’s mics “except for being taped together, would not function” (per transcript.) They also had multiple food bag “failures,” some of which were messy. (Despite these, Walt heroically declared, “But where there is a will, there is a way, and I will find a way to eat this fruit cocktail.”)
The transcript also reveals some fun lunchroom bartering:
“Walt: I’ll trade you four puddings for a package of bacon squares.
Wally: One bacon square?
Walt: Half a pack? Four?
Wally: No sale.
Walt: How about two beef bites for one bacon square? That’s what I’ll give you.
Wally: You mean two small bites?
Walt: Two packages of beef bites for one single bacon square (laughter).
Wally: I don’t care for it. Thank you.
Walt: That’s like trading a dump — dump truck load of trash for a diamond.”
“Donn: I was saying that Wally and I are trying to give away our butterscotch pudding, but nobody wants it. Walt likes to collect cocoa, so we can give our cocoa to him. And both of them are trying to con me out of ham and applesauce.”
Apollo 7 also had the first public, live TV broadcasts from space! Wally was concerned that they would be a distraction from the rest of the mission, and delayed the first broadcast without permission from Mission Control. The rest of the broadcasts went off without a hitch, and the astronauts even won an Emmy award for the “Wally, Walt, and Donn Show.”
(1) “No Place for Gourmets,” NYT (Oct 13, 1968)
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