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Ronnie Walter Cunningham

R. Walter Cunningham [NASA]

Ronnie Walter ('Walt') Cunningham


Born 16 March 1932, in Creston, Iowa. Grown children, Brian and Kimberly. Walter is an avid sports enthusiast and is particularly interested in tennis, hunting, and sports cars.


Graduated from Venice High School, Venice, California; received a bachelor of arts degree with honors in Physics in 1960 and a master of arts degree in Physics in 1961 from the University of California at Los Angeles; completed work on Doctorate in Physics with exception of thesis. Advanced Management Program, Harvard Graduate School of Business, 1974.


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 Sigma Xi. Chairman of UCLA Alumni Fund Drive, 1969 and 1970; Aviation Sub-committee Houston Chamber of Commerce; Advisory Board the Edward Teller Center; Board of Governors, Houston Center Club and a member of the Houston American Revolution Bicentennial Commission. Founding Director, Earth Awareness Foundation and A-1 Answering Service of Texas.


Awarded the NASA Exceptional Service Medal and Navy Astronaut Wings; co-recipient of the AIAA 1969 Haley Astronautics Award; presented the UCLA Alumni Professional Achievement Award for 1969 and the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences Special Trustee Award (1969); the American Legion Medal of Valor, and Outstanding American Award of the American Conservative Union, 1975; named to the International Space Hall of Fame and Houston Hall of Fame; Judge for the 1984 Rolex Awards for Enterprise. Listed in Who's Who in America, the world, Aviation and other similar 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), the human side of the space program.
  • Articles for various magazines, technical journals and newspapers.


Cunningham joined the Navy in 1951 and began his flight training in 1952. In 1953 he joined a Marine squadron and served on active duty with the United States Marine Corps until August 1956 and in the Marine Corps Reserve program until 1975. His present rank is Colonel, USMCR (Retired).

He worked as a scientist for the Rand Corporation 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, including more than 3,400 in jet aircraft and 263 hours in space.

Mr. Cunningham was one of the third group of astronauts selected by NASA in October 1963.

On 11 October 1968, he occupied the lunar module pilot seat for the eleven-day flight of Apollo 7--the first crewed flight test of the third generation United States spacecraft. With Walter M. Schirra, Jr., and Donn F. Eisele, Cunningham participated in 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, four-and-a-half million mile shakedown flight was successfully concluded on October 22, 1968, with splashdown occurring in the Atlantic--some eight miles from the carrier ESSEX (only 3/10 of a mile from the originally predicted aiming point).

Mr. Cunningham's last assignment at the 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 crewed space hardware, two different launch vehicles and 56 major on-board experiments that comprised the Skylab program. The Skylab program also utilized the first crewed systems employing arrays for electrical power, molecular sieves for environmental control systems and inertia storage devices for attitude control systems.

1986-Present The Genesis Fund; Managing General Partner. The Genesis Fund is a $16 million venture capital pool, which makes 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.

1972-Present Investor and Entrepreneur. Residential and commercial real estate investor. Initiated a small business start-up with $2,000, which achieved revenues in excess of $1,000,000. 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 5 crewed modules, 2 launch vehicles and 56 major experiments). Skylab was the first crewed 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 crewed mission of the Apollo Program (Apollo 7, 11 days in space). Played a key role in all aspects of crewed space flight including training, planning, systems design, testing operational support, space flight, analysis of results, public relations, and program management.

1960-1963 The RAND Corporation; Physicist. Performed studies of the earth's magnetosphere and classified projects for the Department of Defense.

1951-1976 U.S. Marine Corps; Presently holds the rank of Colonel, U.S. Marine Corps - Retired, with 4,500 hours pilot time, including 263 hours in space.

# Mission Function Launch Landing Duration Remarks:
1 Apollo 7 Lunar Module Pilot 11.10.1968 22.10.1968 0010:20:09
Total: 0010:20:09


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