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Mercury Astronaut Walter Schirra to Speak at Von Braun Forum in Huntsville Aug. 26
08.19.05
 
Angela Storey
Marshall Space Flight Center, Huntsville, Ala.
(Phone: 256.544.0034)
News release: 05-141


Walter M. Schirra, one of the original seven Mercury astronauts, will be the featured speaker for the Von Braun Forum at 7 p.m., Friday, Aug. 26 in the IMAX Theater of the U.S. Space & Rocket Center in Huntsville, Ala.

The Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Ala., sponsors the event which is free and open to the public.

Schirra is the only one of the three living Mercury astronauts who flew in all three of the nation's pioneering space programs -- Mercury, Gemini and Apollo. He will discuss his pioneering space missions.

The Von Braun Forum celebrates the contributions of Dr. Wernher von Braun, Marshall's first director, to the Tennessee Valley and the space program. Past keynote speakers have included John Denver, the late folk-pop musician; Dr. James Burke, author and science historian; and Walter Cronkite, former anchorman and managing editor of the CBS Evening News.

NASA selected Schirra as one of the first group of astronauts, along with Gordon Cooper, Scott Carpenter, John Glenn, Alan Shepard, Gus Grissom and Deke Slayton. He flew on the fifth Project Mercury flight, orbiting the Earth six times on Oct. 3, 1962, and was commander of the Gemini 6 flight which launched Dec.15, 1965. Schirra was commander of Apollo 7, the first manned flight of the Apollo spacecraft and the Saturn 1B rocket. He and crewmates Walter Cunningham and Donn Eisele successfully checked all the Apollo systems during the 11-day mission which launched Oct. 11, 1968. The Apollo 7 mission qualified the spacecraft for later moon missions. Schirra retired from the Navy and NASA in 1969.

He co-authored a recently-published book, "The REAL Space Cowboys," with Ed Buckbee, a former NASA public affairs officer and the first executive director of the U.S. Space & Rocket Center. The book highlights the Mercury astronauts and their contribution to America's space program.