SAN DIEGO — Walter M. "Wally" Schirra Jr., who as one of the original Mercury Seven astronauts combined the Right Stuff _ textbook-perfect flying ability and steely nerves _ with a pronounced rebellious streak, died Thursday at 84.
He was the only astronaut to fly in all three of NASA's original manned spaceflight programs: Mercury, Gemini and Apollo. Although he never walked on the moon, Schirra laid some of the groundwork that made the lunar landings possible and won the space race for the United States.
In one of his last interviews, last month with The Associated Press, Schirra said he was struck by the fragility of Earth and the lack of borders.
"I left Earth three times. I found no place else to go. Please take care of Spaceship Earth," he said.
We're not doing so hot on your request Wally but we will really try and do better. -FM