Walter Cunningham, last surviving astronaut, from the first successful crewed space mission in Nasa’s Apollo program, has died at the age of 90.
NASA confirmed Cunningham’s death in a statement but did not include its cause. His family said through a spokesman, Jeff Carr, that Cunningham died in a hospital “from complications of a fall, after a full and complete life.”
Cunningham was one of three astronauts aboard the 1968 Apollo 7 mission, an 11-day flight that beamed live broadcasts as it orbited Earth, paving the way for the moon landing less than a year later.
Cunningham, then a civilian, crewed the mission with Navy Capt. Walter M. Schirra and Donn F. Eisele, an Air Force major. Cunningham was the lunar module pilot on the space flight, which launched from Cape Kennedy Air Force Station, Florida, on Oct. 11 and splashed down in the Atlantic Ocean south of Bermuda.
NASA said Cunningham, Eisele and Schirra’ flew a near perfect mission. Their spacecraft performed so well that the agency sent the next crew, Apollo 8, to orbit the moon as a prelude to the Apollo 11 moon landing in July 1969.
Cunningham is survived by his wife Dot, his sister Cathy Cunningham, and his children Brian and Kimberly. In a statement, Cunningham’s family said, “the world has lost another true hero, and we will miss him dearly.”