Wally Schirra, one of the original astronauts in the Mercury 7 project, died Thursday at age 84, NASA officials said.

Wally Schirra died in California, the officials said. He was the fifth American in space and the third to orbit Earth.

Wally Schirra was the only astronaut who flew in three of the nation’s pioneering space programs: Mercury, Gemini and Apollo.


NASA selected Schirra as one of the first group of astronauts, along with Gordon Cooper, Scott Carpenter, John Glenn, Alan Shepard, Gus Grissom and Deke Slayton.

Wally Schirra flew on the fifth Project Mercury flight, orbiting the Earth six times on October 3, 1962, and was commander of the Gemini 6 flight, which launched December 15, 1965.

Wally Schirra was commander of Apollo 7, the first manned flight of the Apollo spacecraft and the Saturn 1B rocket. Wally Schirra and crew mates Walter Cunningham and Donn Eisele successfully checked all the Apollo systems during the 11-day mission that launched October 11, 1968.


The Apollo 7 mission qualified the spacecraft for later moon missions. Schirra retired from the Navy and NASA in 1969.

Wally Schirra co-authored “The Real Space Cowboys” with Ed Buckbee, a former NASA public affairs officer and the first executive director of the U.S. Space & Rocket Center.

The book highlights the Mercury astronauts and their contribution to the U.S. space program.


Thank you CNN’s Rich Phillips who contributed to this report.

Good bye Space Cowboy…you had some great rides and where the HERO of many Baby Boomers…ME being one of them!

It is a good thing that Astronauts are always ASTRONAUTS! Like a President is always the Presdient…as the First Lady always is a First Lady. These things shouldn’t change. They should always be gioven respect.

My Father helped build a lot of the space programs rocket fuel systems. So we as children were taken to many of the launchings. They were wonderful and I wish I had children so I could tell then how, at that time…it was marvelous.

I will not forget you and perhaps you are in the heavens that you once explored. I would like to think that you are.

Tonight, when you walk your dog or gaze apon the stars, look up and see if you see Wallly, up there. I am sure if you look hard enough, you will be able to see him.

~The Baby Boomer Queen~