Walter Cunningham
Ronnie Walter Cunningham (born March 16, 1932), known as Walt Cunningham, is a retired American
United States
The United States of America is a federal constitutional republic comprising fifty states and a federal district...

An astronaut or cosmonaut is a person trained by a human spaceflight program to command, pilot, or serve as a crew member of a spacecraft....

. In 1968, he was the Lunar Module
Apollo Lunar Module
The Apollo Lunar Module was the lander portion of the Apollo spacecraft built for the US Apollo program by Grumman to carry a crew of two from lunar orbit to the surface and back...

 pilot on the Apollo 7
Apollo 7
Apollo 7 was the first manned mission in the American Apollo space program, and the first manned US space flight after a cabin fire killed the crew of what was to have been the first manned mission, AS-204 , during a launch pad test in 1967...

 mission. He was NASA's third civilian astronaut (after Neil Armstrong
Neil Armstrong
Neil Alden Armstrong is an American former astronaut, test pilot, aerospace engineer, university professor, United States Naval Aviator, and the first person to set foot upon the Moon....

 and Elliot See), and has also been a fighter pilot, physicist, entrepreneur, venture capitalist, author of The All-American Boys, lecturer, and host of the radio show Lift-off to Logic.


Walter Cunningham was born in Creston, Iowa
Creston, Iowa
Creston is a city in and the county seat of Union County, Iowa, United States. The population was 7,597 at the 2000 census. McKinley Lake lies within a large, multi-purpose municipal park within the city limits, and three additional recreational lakes are located within seven miles of Creston:...

 on March 16, 1932. He graduated from Venice High School
Venice High School (Los Angeles)
Venice High School is a public high school located in western Los Angeles, California within the Los Angeles Unified School District . The school contains a Foreign Language and International Studies Magnet, Bilingual Business and Finance Academy and a New Media Academy...

 in Venice, California, where a building has since been named for him.

After high school, Cunningham joined the U.S. Navy in 1951, and began flight training
Flight training
Flight training is a course of study used when learning to pilot an aircraft. The overall purpose of primary and intermediate flight training is the acquisition and honing of basic airmanship skills....

 in 1952. He served on active duty
Active duty
Active duty refers to a full-time occupation as part of a military force, as opposed to reserve duty.-Pakistan:The Pakistan Armed Forces are one of the largest active service forces in the world with almost 610,000 full time personnel due to the complex and volatile nature of Pakistan's...

 as a fighter pilot with the U.S. Marine Corps from 1953 until 1956. From 1956 to 1975 he served in the Marine Corps Reserve program, ultimately retiring at the rank of Colonel.

Cunningham received his Bachelor of Arts and literature degree in 1960 and his Master of Arts
Master of Arts (postgraduate)
A Master of Arts from the Latin Magister Artium, is a type of Master's degree awarded by universities in many countries. The M.A. is usually contrasted with the M.S. or M.Sc. degrees...

 degree in 1961, both in physics
Physics is a natural science that involves the study of matter and its motion through spacetime, along with related concepts such as energy and force. More broadly, it is the general analysis of nature, conducted in order to understand how the universe behaves.Physics is one of the oldest academic...

, from the University of California at Los Angeles. He then worked as a scientist
A scientist in a broad sense is one engaging in a systematic activity to acquire knowledge. In a more restricted sense, a scientist is an individual who uses the scientific method. The person may be an expert in one or more areas of science. This article focuses on the more restricted use of the word...

 for the Rand Corporation while pursuing a doctorate.

In October 1963, Cunningham was one of the third group of astronauts
Astronaut Group 3
Astronaut Group 3 was the third group of astronauts selected by NASA. Their selection was announced in October 1963. Fourteen astronauts made up Group 3. Four died in training accidents before they could fly in space. All of the surviving ten flew in the Apollo program; five also flew Gemini...

 selected by NASA
The National Aeronautics and Space Administration is the agency of the United States government that is responsible for the nation's civilian space program and for aeronautics and aerospace research...

. On October 11, 1968, he occupied the lunar module pilot seat for the eleven-day flight of Apollo 7
Apollo 7
Apollo 7 was the first manned mission in the American Apollo space program, and the first manned US space flight after a cabin fire killed the crew of what was to have been the first manned mission, AS-204 , during a launch pad test in 1967...

. Although the flight carried no lunar module, Cunningham was kept busy with the myriad system tests aboard this first launch of a manned Apollo mission. He then worked in a management role for Skylab
Skylab was a space station launched and operated by NASA, the space agency of the United States. Skylab orbited the Earth from 1973 to 1979, and included a workshop, a solar observatory, and other systems. It was launched unmanned by a modified Saturn V rocket, with a mass of...

 and left NASA in 1971. In 1974, he graduated from Harvard Business School
Harvard Business School
Harvard Business School is the graduate business school of Harvard University in Boston, Massachusetts, United States and is widely recognized as one of the top business schools in the world. The school offers the world's largest full-time MBA program, doctoral programs, and many executive...

's Advanced Management Program and later worked as a businessman and investor in a number of private ventures.

In 1977, he published The All-American Boys, a reminiscence of his astronaut days. Cunningham was also a major contributor and foreword-writer for the 2007 space history book In the Shadow of the Moon
In the Shadow of the Moon (book)
In the Shadow of the Moon: A Challenging Journey to Tranquility is a 2007 non-fiction book by space historians Francis French and Colin Burgess...


In 2008, NASA awarded Cunningham the NASA Distinguished Service Medal
NASA Distinguished Service Medal
The NASA Distinguished Service Medal is the highest award which may be bestowed by the National Aeronautics and Space Administration of the United States...

 for his Apollo 7 mission.

Currently he is a radio personality and public speaker. In the 1998 miniseries From the Earth to the Moon Cunningham was played by Fredric Lehne
Fredric Lehne
Fredric Lehne is an actor who has appeared in over 200 films, mini-series, and television shows as well as many stage productions including works by Shakespeare, Molière and Ibsen on Broadway...

. Cunningham is a global warming skeptic.

Global warming views

Cunningham has been an advocate against anthropogenic global warming (AGW). In 2010, he published a pamphlet titled "Global Warming: Fact Versus Faith" in which he states: "The current debate is not unlike Galileo's historic disagreement with the Catholic Church, or the battle over evolution versus creationism. In all three cases, facts are pitted against faith and science against religion. The conflict over global warming has deteriorated into a religious war between true believers in AGW and non-believers, the so-called "skeptics". This report was published by the Heartland Institute, a conservative think tank engaged in "dispelling myths about global warming". The Heartland Institute has, in its publications, made four points:

"Most scientists do not believe human activities threaten to disrupt the Earth's climate."[3]
"The most reliable temperature data show no global warming trend."[17]
"A modest amount of global warming, should it occur, would be beneficial to the natural world and to human civilization."[3]
"The best strategy to pursue is one of 'no regrets'."[3]

In an editorial published in the Houston Chronicle on August 15, 2010, Cunningham argued that the empirical evidence does not support the claims of global warming. The editorial, titled Climate change alarmists ignore scientific methods stated his opinion that the global warming debate hinged on four key points. "About 20 years ago" he stated, "a small group of scientists became concerned that temperatures around the Earth were unreasonably high and a threat to humanity. In their infinite wisdom, the[y] decided (1) that CO2 (carbon dioxide) levels were abnormally high, (2) that higher levels of CO2 were bad for humanity, (3) that warmer temperatures would be worse for the world, and (4) that we are capable of overriding natural forces to control the Earth's temperature. Not one of these presumptions (opinions) has proven to be valid." The article did not mention Cunningham was previously published by The Heartland Institute.
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