Wally Schirra Status: Deceased 3/12/1923 – 5/3/2007 Nationality: American Type: Government Agency: National Aeronautics and Space Administration Walter Marty Schirra Jr. was an American naval aviator and NASA astronaut. In 1959, he became one of the original seven astronauts chosen for Project Mercury, which was the United States’ first effort to put human beings in space. On October 3, 1962, he flew the six-orbit, nine-hour, Mercury-Atlas 8 mission, in a spacecraft he nicknamed Sigma 7. At the time of his mission in Sigma 7, Schirra became the fifth American and ninth human to travel into space. In the two-man Gemini program, he achieved the first space rendezvous, station-keeping his Gemini 6A spacecraft within 1 foot (30 cm) of the sister Gemini 7 spacecraft in December 1965. In October 1968, he commanded Apollo 7, an 11-day low Earth orbit shakedown test of the three-man Apollo Command/Service Module and the first manned launch for the Apollo program.