Wally Schirra, Mercury astronaut, dies

Wally SchirraAstronaut Wally Schirra, one of the seven original Mercury astronauts, and the only astronaut to lift off aboard Mercury, Gemini and Apollo missions, dies at the age of 84. Selected as one of the first “class” of American astronauts, Schirra was the fifth American to fly in space, making six orbits of the Earth in 1962. He commanded Gemini 6, and was the commander of Apollo 7, the first manned Apollo mission, which tested the capabilities of the redesigned Apollo command/service module in Earth orbit. In 1969, he retired from NASA and immediately landed a new gig, sitting aside TV news legend Walter Cronkite for coverage of the missions to the moon, as well as continuing to offer insider commentary on space coverage at CBS through 1975. He was awarded numerous medals by both NASA and the United States Navy, among countless other honors.