That mission was Apollo 7, the first crewed Apollo flight to successfully reach space.
It was also the first astronaut launch since the Apollo 1 disaster in January 1967 killed all three passengers during what was supposed to be a routine test.
“The whole credibility of the Apollo program was riding to some extent on that being a smooth flight — as well, of course, as the whole launch schedule after that, which was very aggressive,” Michael Neufeld, a space historian at the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum, told Space.com.
When the new launch date finally came, astronauts Wally Schirra, Donn Eisele and Walter Cunningham piled into the new command module.
This time, the launch went off without any major hitches and the trio orbited Earth for almost 11 days, proving that the Apollo program was safe for humans.
NASA ground personnel didn’t take kindly to the insubordination, and none of the three astronauts made it onto a future mission.
One moment of tension came from another factor that set Apollo 7 apart: The mission was the first time humans broadcast live television from space.
But although this mission was an important achievement technologically and ensured the success of the Apollo program, it didn’t sell the U.S. public on the idea of spending so much money on the project.
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