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MISSION/STUDY INFORMATION

Mission or Study ID:   Apollo 7
Program:
Apollo
Spacecraft/Location:
Saturn 1B
Launch/Start Date:
10/11/1968
Landing/End Date:
10/22/1968
Duration:
11 days
Apollo 7 Crew Patch

Description
The primary goal of Apollo 7 was to demonstrate crew and spacecraft performance. After the January 1967 Apollo launch pad fire, the Apollo command module had been extensively redesigned. Walter Schirra, the only astronaut to fly on Mercury, Gemini and Apollo missions, commanded this Earth-orbit testing of the command and service modules. Lunar Module Pilot, Walter Cunningham and Command Module Pilot Don F. Eisle were on this flight. With no lunar lander increasing its weight, Apollo 7 was able to use the Saturn IB booster rather than the giant Saturn V for launch.

The Apollo hardware and all mission operations worked without any significant problems, and the Service Propulsion System (SPS) -- the all-important engine that would place Apollo in and out of lunar orbit -- made eight nearly perfect firings. Apollo's larger cabin was more comfortable than Gemini's, showing that three crewmembers could comfortably work and live inside. The eleven-day mission also proved the spaceworthiness of the basic Apollo vehicle. For the first time, U.S. astronauts did not wear space suit helmets during re-entry into the Earth's atmosphere.

The Apollo 7 mission, unlike manned orbital flights in previous programs, involved little scientific experimentation during flight. However, before and after flight, researchers studied several physiological systems. Investigators evaluated the crewmembers' cardiovascular response to exercise pre- and post flight, using a bicycle ergometer and other exercise equipment, and studied the response of the cardiovascular system to weightlessness using lower body negative pressure and passive stand tests.

The clinical aspects of crew health and safety were investigated by performing medical examinations and conducting inflight medical monitoring as evaluation methods. Investigators also studied musculoskeletal changes, clinical disorders in space due to imbalance between bone formation and resorption, inflight weight loss and inflight caloric intake. Another important aspect of crew health and safety is the protection against radiation, so one experiment focused on analyzing natural and man-made radiation encountered in space, with the goal of finding ways of limiting the astronauts' exposure to radiation. Vestibular system experiments not only aided researchers in gaining a better understanding of the mechanisms that provide balance and coordination, but also contributed to alleviating the symptoms of space adaptation syndrome.

The endocrinology experiments sought to understand biochemical changes in crewmembers by studying the balance of fluids and electrolytes, regulation of calcium metabolism and the adaptation of metabolic processes to the space environment.

Scientists also utilized specific laboratory data to assess the health status of the astronauts prior to their commitment to space flight. This allowed them to detect and identify any alterations in the normal functions of the immunological and hematological systems which could be attributed to space flight exposure. It also allowed them to evaluate the significance of these changes relative to a person's continuing participation in space flight missions. Biochemistry data, when integrated with the data obtained from a complete history and physical examination of each crewmember, permitted an objective assessment of crew physical status.

The detection of potentially pathogenic microorganisms was attempted, so that associated medical problems could be identified early and preventive measures could be established. These objectives included the identification of medically important microorganisms recovered from ill crewmembers to aid in diagnosis and treatment.

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