October 11 Categories: History, Media

This day in 1968 marked the first live television broadcast from a manned, orbiting American spacecraft.

All eyes were on the Apollo 7 team — the first American crew to attempt to go into space following the 1967 Apollo 1 pre-launch tragedy that claimed the lives of Gus Grissom, Ed White and Roger B. Chaffee 21 months earlier — when the craft launched on Oct. 11, 1968.

Three days later, television audiences saw mission commander Walter Schirra holding a sign that read: “Keep Those Cards and Letters Coming In Folks,” and his crewmates, Donn Eisele (left) and Walter Cunningham (not pictured), floating in space. Few knew that the initial broadcast had been delayed after Schirra and crew, sick with colds and irritated with several aspects of the mission, refused to “flip the switch” when told. It would be done at the convenience of the crew, and not before. 

All total there were six broadcasts during the 11-day Apollo 7 mission, which allowed viewers to see the astronauts float in the spacecraft and eat the first hot food in space.