Created By The Mercury 7 Astronauts
Donn F. Eisele, a member of the third group of astronauts selected by NASA, was the Command Module pilot on the first manned Apollo mission, Apollo 7, an 11-day Earth-orbit flight in October 1968.
He was born June 23, 1930, in Columbus, Ohio. He received a Bachelor of Science degree in aeronautics from the U.S. Naval Academy and upon graduation he chose an Air Force career. He flew jet fighters and became a test pilot, advancing to the rank of colonel. While in the Air Force he earned a Master of Science degree in aeronautics from the U.S. Air Force Institute of Technology.
NASA selected Eisele as an astronaut in October 1963, and on October 11, 1968, he, Commander Walter Schirra and Lunar Module pilot Walter Cunningham were launched aboard Apollo 7 – a spacecraft that had been almost completely redesigned after the first Apollo crew died in their capsule in the Apollo 1 launch pad fire on January 27, 1967. The 260-hour, 4 1/2-million-mile flight was a complete success and provided NASA with confidence to send the next Apollo crew, Apollo 8, into orbit around the moon.
In 1972, Eisele retired from the Air Force and left NASA to become director of the U.S. Peace Corps in Thailand. He later became sales manager for Marion Power Shovel Company and then handled private and corporate accounts for the investment firm of Oppenheimer & Company.
Eisele died of a heart attack on December 2, 1987, while on a business trip in Tokyo, Japan.
Donn Eisele was inducted into the U.S. Astronaut Hall of Fame on October 4, 1997.