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Biographical Data


Walter Cunningham (NASA Photo S64-31816)

Walter Cunningham
NASA Astronaut (former)

PERSONAL DATA:  Born March 16, 1932, in Creston, Iowa.  Grown children, Brian and Kimberly.

EDUCATION:  Graduated from Venice High School, Venice, California;  received a Bachelor of Arts with honors in Physics in 1960 and a Master of Arts with distinction in Physics in 1961 from the University of California at Los Angeles; completed  a Doctorate in Physics with exception of thesis;  Advanced Management Program, Harvard Graduate School of Business, 1974;  NASA (Space Sciences and Geology) with 2,000 hours, 1963-1971.

ORGANIZATIONS: Associate Fellow of the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics Society; Member of the Society of Experimental Test Pilots; The American Geophysical Union; Explorers Club; Sigma Pi Sigma, and Lifetime Sigma Xi.  Chairman of University of California at Los Angeles (UCLA) Alumni Fund Drive, 1969 and 1970; Chairman, Aviation Sub-committee Houston Chamber of Commerce; Houston-Galveston Area Council; Chairman, Airport Advisory Committee; Advisory Board  for the Edward Teller Center; Board of Governors, Houston Center Club and a member of the Houston American Revolution Bicentennial Commission.  National Association of Small Business Investment Companies; Chairman, Texas Aerospace Commission; Advisory Board, National Renewable Energy Laboratory (5 years); Founding/Director, Earth Awareness Foundation and A-1 Answering Service of Texas.

SPECIAL HONORS:  Awarded the NASA Exceptional Service Medal and NASA Distinguished Service Medal; Navy Astronaut Wings; Co-recipient of the American Institute of Aeronatics and Astronautics (AIAA) Haley Astronautics Award, 1969; presented the University of California at Los Angeles (UCLA) Professional Achievement Award, 1969 and the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences Special Trustee Award, 1969 (Emmy); The American Legion Medal of Valor, and Outstanding American Award of the American Conservative Union, 1975; Distinguished Service Award, California Newspaper Boy Foundation, 1969; inducted in to the Astronaut Hall of Fame, International Space Hall of Fame, Iowa Aviation Hall of Fame, San Diego Air and Space Museum Hall of Fame, and Houston Hall of Fame; Distinguished Service Award, California Newspaper Boy Foundation; judge for the Rolex Awards for Enterprise, 1984.  The 2009 Milton Caniff  “Spirit of Flight;” the George P. Haddaway Award; Frontiers of Flight, Dallas; NASA Ambas­sa­dor of Exploration Award; listed in Who's Who in America, The World, Aviation and other similar publications.

PUBLICATIONS:  "Importance of the Observation that Stars Don't Twinkle Outside the Earth's Atmosphere" (with L. Marshall Libby);  The All-American Boys (Macmillan, 1977);  numerous articles for various magazines, technical journals and newspapers.

EXPERIENCE:  Cunningham enlisted in the Navy in 1951 and began his flight training in 1952.  In 1953, he took his commission as a 2nd Lt and served on active duty with the United States Marine Corps (USMC), flying 54 missions as a night fighter pilot in Korea.  From 1956 through 1975, he served in USMC reserve squadrons.  His present rank is Colonel, U.S. Marine Corps (retired). He worked as a scientist for the Rand Corporation for three years prior to joining NASA.  While with Rand, he worked on classified defense studies and problems of the Earth's magnetosphere.  He has accumulated more than 4,500 hours of flying time in 40 different aircraft, including more than 3,400 in jet aircraft and 263 hours in space.

NASA EXPERIENCE:  Selected by NASA in 1963, Cunningham was a member of NASA’s third astronaut class. Prior to his assignment to the Apollo 7 crew, Cunningham was on the prime crew for Apollo 2 until it was cancelled and the backup Lunar Module Pilot  for Apollo 1. On October 11, 1968, Cunningham  piloted the eleven-day flight of Apollo 7, the first manned flight test of the third generation U.S. spacecraft.  With Walter M. Schirra, Jr. and Donn F. Eisele, Cunningham participated and executed maneuvers enabling the crew to perform exercises in transposition and docking and lunar orbit rendezvous with the S-IVB stage of their Saturn IB launch vehicle; completed eight successful test and maneuvering ignitions of the service module propulsion engine; measured the accuracy of performance of all spacecraft systems; and provided the first live television transmission of onboard crew activities.  The 263-hour, 4.5 million mile flight was successfully concluded on October 22, 1968, with splashdown occurring in the Atlantic.  Apollo 7 established a world record for greatest mass lifted into orbit and remains the longest, most successful first test flight of any new flying machine. Cunningham's last assignment at NASA’s Johnson Space Center was Chief of the Skylab branch of the Flight Crew Directorate.  In this capacity, he was responsible for the operational inputs for five major pieces of manned space hardware, two different launch vehicles and 56 major onboard experiments that comprised the Skylab program

1998 – Present:  Radio talk show host, Lift-off to Logicconsultant to start-up technology companies and a commercial space company; chairman, Texas Aerospace Commission; keynote speaker and writer.

1986 – 1999:  The Genesis Fund; organizer and managing general partner.  The Genesis Fund was a $19.5 million venture capital pool, which made equity investments in early stage, technology oriented companies.

1979 – 1987: The Capital Group; founder.  A private investment firm catering to the particular needs of non-resident investors.  The firm engaged in venture capital activities, addressing the financial needs of start-up and development stage companies and the acquisition of investment property. Served as director of numerous companies and financial institutions

1972 – 1999:  Investor and Entrepreneur.  Residential and commercial real estate investor.  Initiated a small business start-up with $1,000, which achieved revenues in excess of $1,300,000.  Organizer of two national bank charters and outside, professional director of several technology companies.

1976 – 1979:  3D International; senior vice president, director. Directed the engineering division of this international architectural, engineering, and project management firm, with extensive operations in the Middle East.  Effected a successful turn-around through modern management techniques.

1974 – 1976: Hydrotech Development Company; president.  A high technology offshore engineering company, manufacturing a proprietary line of sub-sea pipeline connectors.  Managed the preliminary design of an unmanned, remotely operated, pipeline repair system for use at water depths of 4,000 feet.

1971 – 1974: Century Development Corporation; senior vice president.  Responsible for the operation of 5,000,000 square feet of commercial properties and service companies furnishing maintenance, parking and security services.

1968 – 1971:  NASA/Chief, Skylab branch of the Astronaut Office.  Coordinated the operational development, system integration and habitability of all Skylab space station hardware (included five manned modules, two launch vehicles and 56 major experiments). Skylab was the first manned space application of photo-voltaic electric power, inertial storage devices for attitude control and molecular sieves for environmental control.

1963 – 1971:  NASA; astronaut.  Pilot on the first manned mission of the Apollo Program (Apollo 7).  Played a key role in all aspects of manned space flight including training, planning, systems design, testing operational support, space flight, analysis of results, public relations, and program management.

1960 – 1963:  The Research and Development (RAND) Corporation; physicist.  Performed studies of the Earth's magnetosphere and classified projects for the Department of Defense.

1951 – 1976:  U.S. Marine Corps; retired colonel, U.S. Marine Corps, with 4,500 hours pilot time, including 263 hours in space.

JULY 2014

This is the only version available from NASA.  Updates must be sought from the above named individual.