After the design failures that led up to the Apollo 1's disaster, NASA and its suppliers went back to the drawing board, literally. The Command Module had been extensively redesigned to eliminate the risk of a second catastrophe. With new procedures and new teams in place, the Apollo program had once again fallen behind schedule.
The mission's main goal was to test the new Command Module and the Service Module, including the Service Propulsion System that would be relied upon to place Apollo into and out of Lunar orbit. It was also a test of NASA's fractured psyche-- we needed a big morale boost that would be necessary to lift us to the moon. Apollo 7 provided that boost.
Apollo 7 was the only manned Apollo launch using the smaller, Saturn 1B rocket. It would also be the first manned test of the Command and Service Modules. All totalled the crew orbited the Earth 163 times during its 10 days, 20 hours in space. Afterwards, the mission was called a 101 percent success. Of all the Apollo Missions, Apollo 7 was the most perfect in achieving all of its goals.
The only failing, if it could be called that, is that all of the crew came down with common colds. While this didn't effect the overall mission, it did make for an extremely uncomfortable 10 days in space, and the crew became what might be called grumpy. They complained about numerous problems in the cabin from the noise, to the sleeping arrangements, even to the poorly designed defecation bags used during the flight. As a result of these complaints from the crew, it was unofficially decided that the crew would never fly in space again according to Flight Director Chris Kraft in his 2001 memoirs.
October 11, 1968 / Launch Pad 34
Walter M. Schirra, Jr., Commander
Donn F. Eisele, CSM Pilot
R. Walter Cunningham, Lunar Module Pilot
The primary objectives for the Apollo 7 engineering test flight, were simple: Demonstrate CSM/crew performance; demonstrate crew/space vehicle/mission support facilities performance during a manned CSM mission; demonstrate CSM rendezvous capability.