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Prologue: Caged










(February 19, 1969)
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Caged.

I was caged.

Then, I was driven.

Driven to Cherokee.

A hazy memory of riding caged in the back of a police car.



Two shadows in the front seat, the county sheriff and a female escort.

Patsy Cline’s “Crazy” buzzing from a tinny transistor radio.

Outside, the Iowa landscape bleak:



Cloudy and cold, condensation and frost riming the windows, piles of dirty snow dotting the countryside.

I, cargo.

Destination: Cherokee’s other place, the outline on the hill.

Shifting, crossing my legs…

Please, can we stop?

Hot and steamy inside.



Shivering, my teeth rattling.

Please…I have to go!

Hear something, George?

Naw, nothin’ important.


Laughter.

Cargo has no voice.

Madness has no voice.

Listen, crazy girl…

Two voices: We have come to take you away, ha, ha…

“I’m crazy, crazy…”

Fragments, crazy-quilt impressions, acid flashbacks…

I, crazy?



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From I, Driven: a memoir of involuntary commitment ("Prologue")


© 2008-2010, by Jennifer Semple Siegel

Excerpt may not be used or copied without author’s permission.

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Additional excerpts, out takes, and new essays


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Saturday, August 2, 2008

News Clip--October 11, 1968: Apollo 7 Launch

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Apollo 7 Launch (NASA, Public Domain Photo)
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Apollo 7 launches, carrying Walter Schirra, Jr., Donn Eisele, and Walter Cunningham.


The spacecraft makes 163 orbits in 260 hours.

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Apollo 7: Oct. 11, 1968


momo2007x
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Mission Highlights

Apollo 7 was a confidence-builder. After the January 1967 Apollo launch pad fire, the Apollo command module had been extensively redesigned. Schirra, who would be the only astronaut to fly Mercury, Gemini and Apollo missions, commanded this Earth-orbital shakedown of the command and service modules. Since it was not carrying a lunar module, Apollo 7 could be launched with the Saturn IB booster rather than the much larger and more powerful Saturn V. Schirra wanted to give Apollo 7 the callsign "Phoenix" (the mythical bird rising from its own ashes) in memory of the loss of the Apollo 1 crew, but NASA management was against the idea.

The Apollo hardware and all mission operations worked without any significant problems, and the Service Propulsion System (SPS), the all-important engine that would place Apollo in and out of lunar orbit, made eight nearly perfect firings.


Apollo 7 in space (NASA, Public Domain Photo)_____________________________________________________


Even though Apollo's larger cabin was more comfortable than Gemini's, eleven days in orbit took its toll on the astronauts. The food was bad, and Schirra developed a cold. As a result, he became irritable with requests from Mission Control and all three began "talking back" to the Capcom. An early example was this exchange after Mission Control requested that a TV camera be turned on in the capsule:

SCHIRRA: You've added two burns to this flight schedule, and you've added a urine water dump; and we have a new vehicle up here, and I can tell you this point TV will be delayed without any further discussion until after the rendezvous.

CAPCOM: Roger. Copy.

SCHIRRA: Roger.

CAPCOM: Apollo 7 This is CAP COM number 1.

SCHIRRA: Roger.

CAPCOM: All we've agreed to do on this is flip it.

SCHIRRA: ... with two commanders, Apollo 7.

CAPCOM: All we have agreed to on this particular pass is to flip the switch on. No other activity is associated with TV; I think we are still obligated to do that.

SCHIRRA: We do not have the equipment out; we have not had an opportunity to follow setting; we have not eaten at this point. At this point, I have a cold. I refuse to foul up our time lines this way. ("Apollo 7 Air-to-Ground Voice Transcript," pp.117-118) Warning: HUGE download.
Exchanges such as this would lead to the crew members being passed over for future missions. ("Encyclopedia Astronautica") But the mission successfully proved the space-worthiness of the basic Apollo vehicle.

Goals for the mission included the first live television broadcast from an American spacecraft (Gordon Cooper had broadcast slow scan television pictures from Faith 7 in 1963) and testing the lunar module docking maneuver.

First orbit: perigee 231 km, apogee 297 km, period 89.78 min, inclination 31.63 deg., weight: CSM 14,781 kg.

The splashdown point was 27 deg 32 min N, 64 deg 04 min W, 200 nautical miles (370 km) SSW of Bermuda and 13 km (8 mi) north of the recovery ship USS Essex.

For nearly 30 years the Apollo 7 module was on loan (renewable every two years) to the National Museum of Science and Technology of Canada, in Ottawa, along with the space suit worn by Wally Schirra. In November 2003 the Smithsonian Institution in Washington D.C. requested them back for display at their new annex at the Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center. Currently, the Apollo 7 CM is on loan to the Frontiers of Flight Museum located next to Love Field in Dallas, Texas.

Apollo 7 was the only manned Apollo launch to take place from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station's Launch Complex 34, as all subsequent Apollo (including Apollo-Soyuz) and Skylab missions were launched from Launch Complex 39 at the nearby Kennedy Space Center.

As of 2008, Cunningham is the only surviving member of the crew. Eisele died in 1987 and Schirra in 2007.

Mission insignia

The insignia for the flight showed a command and service module with its SPS engine firing, the trail from that fire encircling a globe and extending past the edges of the patch symbolizing the Earth-orbital nature of the mission. The Roman numeral VII appears in the South Pacific Ocean and the crew's names appear on a wide black arc at the bottom.

Capsule location

The Apollo 7 Command Module is on display at the Frontiers of Flight Museum, Dallas, Texas

Depiction in fiction

Portions of the Apollo 7 mission are dramatized in the miniseries From the Earth to the Moon episode entitled "We Have Cleared the Tower."



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