NASA honored former Apollo astronaut Walt Cunningham as an “Ambassador of Exploration.” The award provides special recognition for the astronauts of America’s early space programs: Mercury, Gemini and Apollo.
Cunningham was presented with a moon rock at the Frontiers of Flight Museum in Dallas to acknowledge his pioneering service as a NASA astronaut. He is donating the rock to the museum, which is temporarily displaying the Apollo 7 Command Module.
NASA astronaut Charles Hobaugh represented the agency at the event and presented Cunningham with the award. Hobaugh is assigned to space shuttle crew STS-118.
He read Cunningham a letter from NASA Administrator Michael Griffin: “Congratulations on receiving NASA’s Ambassador of Exploration Award. What a great honor for you to share with your family and the many friends and supporters of the Frontiers of Flight Museum.
“The purpose of these awards is to recognize the tremendous contributions America’s first generation of astronauts made to space exploration and to help inspire a new generation to carry the torch of exploration throughout the solar system.
“Your outstanding service on the Apollo 7 mission and your continued strong advocacy for a bold, boundary pushing space program have demonstrated the essence of what our Ambassador of Exploration Awards are all about.
“The men and women of NASA are engaged in the work that will enable our Nation to return humans to the moon, send robotic explorers and, ultimately, human pioneers to Mars, and other destinations in our solar system.
“In taking on this challenge, we welcome the opportunity to follow in the footsteps of those heroic astronauts who blazed our first pathway beyond Earth. In this regard, we owe you a great debt of gratitude.”
Cunningham served during the Apollo 7 mission in October 1968. He logged 263 hours in space during the 11-day, 163-orbit flight. The Apollo 7 crew was the first to beam live telecasts from orbit, giving millions of people around the world their first views of space.
For the full text of Administrator Griffin’s letter to Cunningham on the Web, visit: