It’s October 1968, and the Space Race has reached a critical juncture. Three U.S. astronauts are orbiting the Earth inside an experimental spacecraft, and the men are pioneers on a pivotal mission. In fact, the stakes here are so high that the future of NASA is in the balance. But even so, the crew in space are discontent – maybe verging on mutinous.
Apollo 7 was a historic mission, marking as it did the first time that a craft in the Apollo program had carried a crew into space. And as such, the expedition blazed a trail for astronauts such as Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin, who landed on the Moon in July 1969. Indeed, without Apollo 7, there may have been no Apollo 11 – meaning the United States may ultimately have lost the Space Race to the Soviet Union.
But while the Apollo 7 mission ought to have been a professional high-point for its crew – and, in some respects, this may have been the case – the men’s return to Earth actually spelled the end of their respective astronautic careers. Why? Well, tensions with mission control eventually became so strained that the astronauts preferred to risk their lives rather than obey an order. And their actions subsequently earned them the scorn of NASA flight director Christopher Kraft, who decided in turn that they shouldn’t fly again.