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Walter Cunningham, last surviving member of first manned Apollo mission, dies as 90

"The world has lost another true hero," family says.

Published: January 4, 2023 2:47pm

Updated: January 4, 2023 2:56pm

Walter Cunningham, the last surviving member of the legendary first crewed Apollo mission in the earliest days of NASA, died on Tuesday at 90 years old. 

NASA Administrator Bill Nelson said in a statement that Cunningham "was a fighter pilot, physicist, and an entrepreneur – but, above all, he was an explorer."

"On Apollo 7, the first launch of a crewed Apollo mission, Walt and his crewmates made history, paving the way for the Artemis Generation we see today,” Nelson said, referencing NASA's current moon exploration program.

Cunnigham was born in Iowa and eventually graduated from UCLA with multiple physics degrees. Following his stint with NASA he worked in various business ventures. 

A year after Cunningham's Apollo 7 flight, the Apollo program would go on to launch the Apollo 11 spaceflight that brought astronauts to the moon, the first time humans had ever set foot onto another astronomical body.

Cunningham's family in a statement on his death touted what they said was there "immense pride in the life that he lived, and our deep gratitude for the man that he was – a patriot, an explorer, pilot, astronaut, husband, brother, and father. The world has lost another true hero, and we will miss him dearly.”

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