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Mercury astronaut Walter Schirra dies, aged 84

Friday, May 4, 2007

Astronaut Wally Schirra.

Former NASA Astronaut Walter Marty Schirra, Jr (born March 12, 1923), a member of the original Mercury Seven and the fifth American in space, has died at the age of 84.

Schirra, who is best known for flying the Mercury-Atlas 8 mission, launched on October 3, 1963, is believed to have died of natural causes on May 3, 2007.

"With the passing of Wally Schirra, we at NASA note with sorrow the loss of yet another of the pioneers of human spaceflight. As a Mercury astronaut, Wally was of a member of the first group of astronauts to be selected, often referred to as the Original Seven," said NASA Administrator Michael Griffin in a statement posted on NASA's website.

Schirra also flew on the Gemini 6A mission, which was involved, along with Gemini 7, in the first rendezvous in orbit between two manned spacecraft. His third and final mission was the first manned Apollo flight, Apollo 7, during which he and two other astronauts tested the Apollo spacecraft in low Earth orbit, ahead of later lunar flights.

He was the only astronaut to fly on Mercury, Gemini, and Apollo flights. Following his death, only two of the Mercury Seven, John Glenn and Scott Carpenter remain alive.

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