Launch from Cape Canaveral; landing southeast
of Bermuda Islands in the Atlantic Ocean.
7 was the only manned
launch to take place from Cape Kennedy Air
Force Station's Launch Complex 34. All subsequent
and Skylab missions (including
) were launched from Launch
Complex 39 at the nearby Kennedy Space Center, and Launch Complex 34 was
retired. Apollo 7 marked the first
NASA mission after the
launch pad fire
. It was also the first crew of three American astronauts.
The mission was a testflight of the modificated
spacecraft. The crew performed rendezvous
exercises with the upper stage of the Saturn 1-B launch vehicle and provided
the first TV pictures from a U.S. spacecraft.
All three astronauts
developed a bad cold. Additionally one of the three fuel cells supplying
electricity to the craft developed some unwanted high temperatures and the
coolant lines sweated and water collected in little puddles on the deck. The
crew vacuumed the excess water out into space with the urine dump hose. Looking
through the five capsule windows therefore was not good at the beginning of the
mission; two of the windows had soot deposits and two others had water
condensation, but a few days later the windows were adequate. So the crew could
perform observations and navigational sightings with a telescope and a sextant.
The bad cold of the astronauts caught another problem. Mucus
accumulates, filling the nasal passages, and does not drain from the head. The
only relief is to blow hard, which is painful to the ear drums. So the crewmen
7 whirled through space suffering from stopped
up ears and noses. Aspirin and decongestant tablets helped during the mission.
The next problem was indeed the landing, the crew began to worry about wearing
their suit helmets during reentry, which would prevent them from blowing their
noses. The buildup of pressure might burst their eardrums, several discussions
followed and especially Commander Walter
was adamant. At least, mission control
won and the astronauts each took a decongestant pill about an hour
before reentry and made it through the acceleration zone without any problems
with their ears.
The most serious problem during reentry was the
overheating of fuel cells, which might have failed when the spacecraft was too
far from Earth to return on batteries, even if fully charged. But each anomaly
was satisfactorily checked out before the next mission.
The crew was
recovered by the