Reporter: Now ladies and gentlemen, the president of the United States.
President Johnson: Our American dream for outer space is a dream of peace and a dream of friendly cooperation among all the nations of the Earth. We intend to live up to our agreement not to orbit weapons of mass destruction. And we will continue to hold out to all nations, including the Soviet Union a hand of cooperation in the exciting years of space exploration which lie ahead for all of us.
John Logsdon: In the immediate aftermath of John Kennedy’s assassination, there was a question put to the new President Johnson: What do you want to do about the Kennedy initiative, to do joint missions to the Moon with the Soviet Union? Johnson was skeptical, but NASA didn’t want to cooperate. And so the decision was, let’s not bother.
John Logsdon: NASA and the Apollo program had literally the highest national priority.
Reporter: Do we have any knowledge of how we’re doing in this race to the Moon with the Soviet Union?
Wernher von Braun: Well all we know is that the Russians have demonstrated, repeatedly, a great competence in their manned-space operations. I think we should not believe that they are suddenly giving up – giving up in this race. I’m convinced that they will make an all-out effort to land on the Moon ahead of us. We stop racing, they will undoubtedly win.
Neil Armstrong: That’s one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind.
John Logsdon: People didn’t know for sure at the time, but the reality was the Soviet Union didn’t have a Moon program. Turned out the Soviets were still debating whether to go to the Moon or not.
Sergei Khrushchev: My father was pragmatic, so when Korolev came to my father and told, we have to work now on the new N1 launcher to send the men to the Moon, my father told no. First, give me the cost of the project. And Korolev could not answer. And he told, I have different priorities. We have to improve life of our people. We need to invest in the housing, in the producing of the consumer goods. Americans spend their money. I spend my people’s money, and I am responsible for them. So at last he approved the preliminary design of this lunar program only in August, 1964. But the real lunar race started only after my father was ousted out of power.
Sergei Khrushchev: After that his successor Brezhnev didn’t count money, and he told go ahead, I will give you everything what you want.
George Alexander: From the very beginning, the Russian manned space flight program compiled a very proud list of firsts – the first woman into orbit around the Earth, the first multiple crew, the first spacewalk. These were all very impressive achievements. It may have been a little bit crude and rough around the edges, but they did it. However, the Russians hadn’t at that time mastered the problem of rendezvous and docking – a critical part of the total lunar landing process.
Alexander: All the steps involved in Apollo, those were all things that had to happen pretty much perfectly, some 230,000 miles away on the Moon. And you didn’t want to try to do all those things for the first time so far away from home. Gemini was going to prove the lunar-orbit rendezvous.
Walter Cronkite: This is the equipment that will be the first computer ever put into space in a manned spacecraft. A ingenious devise which will enable these astronauts to do the thing which Gemini is designed to do, and that’s for the first time to maneuver in outer space so that they can link up with another vehicle out there and build space platforms for future space exploration. What they will be doing on this GT-3, this first manned Gemini flight, the first maneuver will be to change the orbit…
Joel Banow: I don’t think there was anybody like Walter Cronkite. He was like a kid. He loved imparting the wonder of space and what man was doing. He made the average viewer really connect, as he really connected, to the whole subject of man going into space.
Cronkite: Their target vehicle is in a perfect orbit circling the Earth. It’s now midway over Australia. It’ll be back over the Cape here in thirty-eight minutes…
George Alexander: I was excited, I thought here we are in the New Frontier. And there was support for the cost and the risks initially, but as time went on that began to erode.
Mark Bloom: We had mixed obligations, I always felt. We had the obligation to present the enthusiasm– historically, man going to the Moon. That was an amazing thing. The second part of the story is, we are covering a government agency – NASA – which is spending 24 billion dollars which, in those days, was a huge amount of money. So we had to cover that element to it. I don’t think I covered it properly, if anything I erred on the side of covering the adventure.
David Brinkley: The space program is costing us about five billion dollars a year, and if there is anyone left anywhere who still cares about money, he might reasonably ask what we are getting for all of it. If it is simply a matter of keeping ahead of the Russians in a procession of high-altitude tricks and stunts, it probably isn’t worth it. It is doubtful that a few points on the international Gallup poll in Asia and Africa, a little increased national prestige in Asia and Africa, it’s doubtful that’s worth more than maybe thirty-five cents. If it is simply a matter of displaying our technical expertise by orbiting around the Earth a series of metal tanks carrying men, radios, switches, nobs, and chicken salad in squeeze tubes – that probably isn’t worth the money either.
Brinkley: But there is another element. It is said that by exploring space we will increase the sum of human knowledge and perhaps make some basic discoveries – learn some dimensions and insights previously unknown.
Bill Anders: NASA was always trying to sell the program. And we would go out and talk to kids in schools and we called it the Week in the Barrel. In the old days, in sailing ships, they’d stick one guy in the barrel and he’d have to put his rear end by the hole and everybody would take their turn. So we had our week in the barrel.
Ed Buckbee: Astronaut in a barrel – one astronaut per week would be selected, and that astronaut – for one week – they were ours, for speaking engagements, television appearances – whatever. You know we managed them. Astronauts hated it.
Frank Borman: The astronauts were used as a PR tool by NASA very effectively, and I’ve been on more parades and spoken to more chambers of commerce – you know this was more than just PR. This was ingratiating Congressmen to get their support.
Jim Webb: Unless a hundred and forty-one million dollars was restored in the supplemental and the five billion, three hundred and four million dollars approved, we are near the position where we simply will have to say we’re not going to do it this decade.
Frank Borman: Mr. Webb used it very, very effectively. Webb understood you had to have the support of the Congress to get this thing done.
Congressman Teague: You should have seen him with his Texas boots on…
Frank Borman: He understood how democracy works.
Bill Anders: There was a lot of apple-polishing with Congressmen and so if a Congressman wanted to have some astronaut appear with him, he just snapped his fingers.
Woman: Congressman Teague of Texas office.
Bill Anders: I became buddies with Congressman, ah Chairman Teague of the House Space Committee. “Tiger” Teague was from a district where I had lived in Texas. I was one of his favorites.
Congressman Teague: George, would additional money to any degree improve or change the Gemini program?
George Mueller: If I may have the first slide – I thought you might be interested in the rendezvous operation…
Congressman Teague: I think Gemini’s in good shape, but I think the Apollo program is going to have to have more money. I understand that NASA is hesitant about pestering the bureau of the budget for more money, but if NASA’s going to tell us that we’re not going to get to the Moon by ’70 because of money, I think that the Committee should certainly be aware of it, and that NASA doesn’t come back here later and say we didn’t succeed because the Committee didn’t get the money for them.
Ed Buckbee: I remember being there one day, and as we were breaking up, this Congressman stood up and said, Dr. Von Braun, do you need any more money? And I thought, I’ve never heard that comment made.
Walter Cronkite: In these final days before the launch of this Gemini flight, now scheduled for next Tuesday, dozens of contractors in dozens of buildings all over Cape Kennedy are going through the final tests of their pieces of equipment that will be in this complex booster and spacecraft when they blast off from pad nineteen.
John Logsdon: The start of the Gemini launches – I mean there were ten launches in twelve months. There was lots of stuff going on, lots of public interest, and all of it clearly leading up to the Apollo landing.
Walter Cronkite: 1:40 and counting at Cape Kennedy under cloudless skies. Astronauts McDivitt and White, preparing for four days in space and America’s first walk in space.
June 3, 1965
Jack King: …T minus ninety seconds and counting. The launch vehicle has gone to internal power. The launch vehicle is now on its own battery power…
Walter Cronkite: Everything is go for this mission. All the tracking stations around the world…
Jack King: 5, 4, 3, 2, 1, 0… Liftoff.
Chet Huntley: Space pilots McDivitt and White are at this moment in their eighteenth orbit of the Earth. They’ve been aloft twenty-seven hours, forty-four minutes. They are currently over western Australia. The two pilots have flown about 430,000 miles, nearly the distance of the round trip to the Moon.
Mission control: Turn off your heat exchanger to four one.
Ed White: … Gemini 4
Bill Anders: A major element of Gemini was getting outside of the space craft. And we called it EVA, or Extra-Vehicular Activity.
Michael Collins: The first EVAs, of course, were on the Gemini 4, Ed White. Ed White was just to get out and see what it was like and then to come back in.
Ed White: My feet are out. Ok, I’m out.
Jim Mcdivitt: Ok, he’s out.
Ed White: This is the greatest experience I’ve… It’s just tremendous. Right now I’m standing on my head, and I’m looking right down and it looks like we’re coming up on the coast of California. Ok, I’m dipping down underneath the spacecraft. What I’d like to do is get all the way out Jim and get a picture of the whole spaceship – I don’t seem to be doing it.
Jim Mcdivitt: Yeah, I noticed that – you can’t seem to get far enough away.
Ed White: No.
Michael Collins: He was cartwheeling, ass-over-teakettle, up and around and about. He had a dorky little hand-held maneuvering device, which in itself was very difficult.
Ed White: Listen, it’s all the difference in the world with this gun. When that gun was working I was maneuvering all around.
Michael Collins: We should have paid maybe a little more attention and said, you know, we need some help in terms of tethers, lanyards, hand holds, foot holds, but those were the things we didn’t really think of.
Jim Mcdivitt: The flight director says get back in.
Ed White: Ok.
George Alexander: Ed White found it exhilarating. He had more fun floating in space –
Ed White: I feel like a million dollars!
George Alexander: – and so when NASA controllers in Houston said, ok, we’ve met all the objectives of this test, get back in the spacecraft, Ed White said, basically, no.
Ed White: What are we over now, Jim?
Jim Mcdivitt: I don’t know, we’re coming over the (inaudible). They want you to come back in now.
Ed White: Not yet!
Jim Mcdivitt: Back in.
Gus Grissom: Roger, we’ve been trying to talk to you for a while here.
George Alexander: He stood up to mission control. He became a hero to his fellow astronauts, because so much of their life, by being in the program, was circumscribed.
Reporter: Mrs. White, to you what was the highlight of your husband’s twenty-minute excursion in space today outside the space vehicle?
Pat White: Oh, just the whole thing, just knowing he was out there, I knew how thrilled he was to do it. I’m glad he was able to do it.
Reporter: And the Whites were greeting by neighbors and reporters at their home.
Ed White: …very nice here, I certainly appreciate it.
Pat White: Hi! How are you?
Ed White: Thanks Marty – come on in later on, I’ll tell you some stories.
Reporter: Soon after returning home, the Whites went swimming in a neighbor’s pool.
Ed Dwight: This confusion about the name with Ed White and Ed Dwight - about the black community getting him mixed up with me, all came to a head when Ed walked in space.
Ed Dwight: Ed showed up one day - because he was a very, very nice guy - and he brought me two boxes of mail. He said to me, I got two boxes of mail that are really addressed to you and they’re congratulating you, Ed Dwight, as the first African-American to walk in space, confusing you with me. Now I understand why it’s important for you to go into space. It was twenty years from the time I went into training to the time the first black astronaut was sent into space. Now twenty years is a long time. America had to adjust to allow non-white people to go into space, women as well.
Bill Anders: The primary purpose with regard to Gemini was to demonstrate Earth-orbit rendezvous. And of course, docking was important. And all of those things met with a lot of problems. Even though I had studied orbital mechanics in college, it still is perplexing to me. There’s so many counterintuitive things. You slow down which drops your orbit which means you go around the earth faster, and pretty soon the thing that was in front of you is now above and behind you, and then you can speed up and catch him. The orbital rendezvous is so counterintuitive that you really had to use the on-board computer in Gemini in order to implement it. The expert in the group was Buzz Aldrin.
Bill Anders: I wouldn’t be surprised if Buzz couldn’t do it in his head.
Buzz Aldrin: I’m Lieutenant Aldrin, I just got down off my fifty-sixth mission. I’m stationed here at a advance space in Korea, flying with the fifty-first fighter interceptor wing. We were closing rather rapidly on the MiGs. I opened up fire on them while they were in this gradual turn. Two MiGs were flying and they never saw us, we just snuck up from behind, and as I was coming closer, why, a canopy came off, and then there was a flash, and the ejection seat went, and that was the first time a gun-camera film had ever seen an ejection. So that made Life magazine. Later, while I was at MIT, I wrote a thesis called “Line-of-Sight Guidance Techniques for Manned Orbital Rendezvous.” That came from fighter pilot experience, translating fighter pilot intercepts to spacecraft rendezvous.
March 17, 1966
Neil Armstrong: Hello Houston, this is Gemini 8, we’re stationed keeping on the Agena at about 150 feet.
Mark Bloom: Gemini 8 of course was the Neil Armstrong flight where they had the first emergency in space.
Mission control: Roger, do you have solid radar lock on with the Agena? Over.
Armstrong: That’s affirmative. We have solid radar lock.
Paul Haney: Neil Armstrong called in and he was able to confirm at that time that radar lock had been…
George Alexander: The Gemini spacecraft did hook up with an Agena. That was the stand-in for what became the lunar landing module.
Mission control: Let us know what you get out of that.
Neil Armstrong: Flight we are docked.
Mark Bloom: This emergency occurred when a thruster got stuck open, and they were spinning wildly, and they were in trouble.
Neil Armstrong: We’ve got serious problems here. We’re tumbling end over end. We’re disengaged from the Agena. We’re rolling up and we can’t turn anything off…
Mission control: Say again?
Neil Armstrong: …We’re in a violent left roll here at the present time. The RCS is off and we can’t fire it and we apparently have a roll on the stuck hand controller.
Mark Bloom: When the emergency occurred, I was in Houston and you could hear everything.
Mission control: We can’t seem to get any valid data here. It seems to be in a pretty violent tumble right now.
George Alexander: They were into a really horrific spin, so much so that the astronauts were beginning to feel disoriented.
Neil Armstrong: Okay we are regaining control of the spacecraft slowly in RCS direct.
Mission control: Roger, copy.
Mark Bloom: They were going to abort and that was critical. They had to splash down early.
George Alexander: It demonstrated that Neil Armstrong was a superb pilot, a superb judge of mechanical systems. God had given it to him with both hands, and he knew how to use that skill. He was decisive.
Buzz Aldrin: Lovell and I flew on the last mission of Gemini – Gemini 12. If I hadn’t flown on Gemini, I never would have gotten a choice assignment in Apollo.
Jim Lovell: You get in a good position for photography now.
Buzz Aldrin: Well, the space walking in the Gemini program was not very successful as it proceeded along.
Michael Collins: We had not in our designs really thought through what happens to objects that bang together in weightlessness. If I touch that table, I go off in some totally three-dimensional random direction, and very soon you’re just out of control.
Buzz Aldrin: They didn’t want a partial success or failure on the last flight. A lot of things can go wrong. And I said well look, I’ve been a scuba diver and you don’t work against the current you slowly kind of maneuver, and it’s delicate how you move around. You need to do them delicately, not muscle. Some of the astronauts said, no, no, that’s not going to be any good, there’s a big difference between water and space. But everything I did do worked out so well that neutral buoyancy has ever since been the way you train.
Bill Anders: Gemini 12 with Aldrin and Lovell was exceptionally successful.
Buzz Aldrin: It’s November 11th, Vets Day.
Bill Anders: And I hand it to Buzz Aldrin. He really made advancements on working in space, to try to do things.
Buzz Aldrin: This is a little bit harder than it was underwater.
Bill Anders: That was the good news. The bad news was they did such a good job that they canceled Gemini 13, which Neil and I were going to fly on.
Gameshow host: Well, Mr. Armstrong, your son is one of the two civilians chosen. How long has he been flying, sir?
Stephen Armstrong: Since before he was sixteen years of age.
Gameshow host: Before sixteen? This would mean he had his wings before he had his driver’s license. Right?
Viola Armstrong: That’s right.
Gameshow host: Now how would you feel, Mrs. Armstrong, if it turned out, of course nobody knows, but if it turns out that your son is the first man to land on the moon, what – how will you feel?
Mrs. Armstrong: Well, I guess I’d just say God bless him, and I wish him the best of all good luck.
March 21, 1966
Paul Haney: Well, gentlemen the occasion of course is the naming of the first Apollo flight crew. The crewmen will be Lieutenant Colonel Virgil Gus Grissom, Lieutenant Colonel Edward H. White, and Lieutenant Roger B. Chaffee. Gus Grissom was the first of the astronauts to make two space flights, and now he will be the commander of the first Apollo flight mission. Of course you know, Ed White, he’s become a pretty famous man in the last year, and I believe this will be Roger Chaffee’s first space flight. And of course we wish all these men extremely well.
Reporter: Could you philosophize on just why you think we should go to the moon?
Ed White: I think there are so many questions – so many reasons why we should. And if we don’t try to expand ourself and expand our horizons, which I think the space program is the biggest example of expanding your horizons that man has ever undertaken, we’re not going to progress as a nation. From all standpoints it’s a good program, and why we want to go to the Moon specifically, well it’s the closest thing, that we haven’t explored, to our Earth, and it’s the first step into understanding the whole universe.
Director: Background action! Doris.
Doris Day(showing NASA facilities to foreign dignitaries): Now this is called the clean room. It’s completely sterilized so that no dust or dirt will contaminate the critical parts. Workers entering the clean room must first stand on this crate, which shakes all the dirt loose from the shoes and the clothing, like this. Um, I think we better move on now, we’ll go in that direction.
Director: Cut it.
Doris Day: Well, we had a little trouble with that one didn’t we? As you’ve just seen, when we make a motion picture we can shoot a scene over and over until we get it right. Now Saturn and Apollo must be successful the very first time because the astronauts’ lives depend upon it. And from the caliber of people I have met in the aerospace business, and from the quality of the work I saw being done there, I’m certain that it will be successful – and on the very first take. So please, all of you, be extra careful. Be extra, extra careful. Won’t you?
Michael Collins: We spent a lot of time out in North American Rockwell. Spent a lot of time at the factory with the people out in Downey, California, who assembled the actual space craft. There was a we-know-better kind of an arrogant attitude on the part of some of the managers, and it was a laid-back well, we’ll get done one way or the other sometime, somehow, attitude on the part of some of the workers. I think there was not the dedication to the extremely strong work ethic. Things like, building a good spacecraft instead of worrying about whether you were going to get your camper up into the High Sierras for the weekend.
Reporter(interviews with Apollo 1 crew): You flew on Mercury, you flew on Gemini, now you’re flying on Apollo. Is the law of averages, so far as the possibility of a catastrophic failure bother you at all sir?
Gus Grissom: No. You sort of have to put that out of your mind. There’s always a possibility that you can have a catastrophic failure, of course. This can happen on any flight, it can happen on the last one as well as the first one. So, you just plan as best you can to take care of all of these eventualities, and you get a well-trained crew, and you go fly.
Reporter: This spacecraft you’re going to ride on is, to a certain extent, untried. You’re taking the shakedown crew. Do you approach it with any apprehension as compared to the Gemini which had been flown before?
Ed White: No, I don’t think so. I think you have to understand the feeling that a pilot has and that a test pilot has that – I look forward a great deal to the first flight. There’s a great deal of pride involved in making a first flight. So I’m looking forward to the flight with a great deal of anticipation.
Reporter: Is anything scary about a first space flight, even though you’ve flown many hours in conventional aircraft, jet aircraft?
Roger Chaffee: Oh I don’t like to say anything’s scary about it. There’s a lot of unknowns, of course, and a lot of problems that could develop or might develop and they’ll have to be solved, and that’s what we’re there for. This is our business to find out if this thing will work for us. But I don’t think anybody is – You know, I don’t like to use the word scary. I definitely think you’re apprehensive, and you’re considering what’s involved there. You’re thinking about it. But you know how to handle it, and take care of it, and do the job.
January 27, 1967
Gus Grissom: Alright this is your senior pilot, counting one, two, three, four, five. Five, four, three, two, one, Senior Pilot.
Launch control: Pilot, I haven’t talked to you yet, how’s it feel? One, two, three, four, five. Four, three, two, one.
Gus Grissom: Hey, how are we going to get to the Moon if we can’t talk between three buildings?
Gus Grissom: I can’t hear a thing you’re saying. Jesus Christ.
Launch control: Again?
Gus Grissom: How are we going to get to the moon if we can’t talk between two or three buildings?
Roger Chaffee(text on screen): Hey! We’ve got a fire in the cockpit! There is a bad fire! Help us! Help us!
Launch control(text on screen): Hey crew can you egress this at this time? Confirm it? Pad leader get in there and help them. Pad leader zero, three, three. Alright clear, did we get verification? Can you egress this at this time? Pad, were you able to hear them? Get them out of there. Gus can you read us? Pad leader? Could you get them out of there!
Bill Anders: I was working in the yard, and I got a call from Alan Bean, and he said, we’ve had a fire and the three astronauts were killed, and would you go over and tell Pat White. So I quickly jumped out of my lawn mowing clothes, and drove over there. It took me maybe ten minutes.
Valerie Anders: It was very difficult because Bill had to tell Pat White, and Janet was next door – Janet Armstrong – and so she went over there. We didn’t know how to divide ourselves right away because of the three wives having to be told about it. So, it was – it was just a time when we were in shock.
Bill Anders: I arrived and I walked up to her, and I think she sensed something. And I told her and she broke down.
Mike Wallace: America’s first three Apollo astronauts were trapped and killed by a flash fire that swept their Moon ship early tonight during a launch pad test at Cape Kennedy in Florida.
Jules Bergman: They died at T minus 10 minutes into a simulated launch countdown, helplessly trapped inside their spacecraft.
Reporter: And this is a hard phrase to say, but I think it’s a necessary one – it would be an instantaneous death, would it not?
Paul Haney: I think that’s a fair assumption.
Walter Cronkite: Apparently they died absolutely instantly.
George Alexander: I went to the NASA news center, and Jack King told me that the print media wanted me to be the pool reporter to go up and look into the spacecraft. And when I rode the elevator up to the top of the gantry to where the burned-out spacecraft was, there were only two or three people up there, and there was a photographer. The hatch was open, and the smell of burned paper and foam – not flesh – was very pronounced. There were some anomalous things. For example, one side of the space craft just was a pile of ashes, but over on the other side, here were manuals and other flammable stuff, untouched. The bottom of the spacecraft, below the frame was littered with clumps of debris which were unrecognizable. There were – I counted at least – at least twelve fire extinguishers, some obviously had been used. Oh, by the way, there were several gas masks on the floor… When the ground crew was able to open the hatch, they found the three bodies piled on top of one another. The hatch opened inward, so it had to be pulled from inside, pushed from the outside, and as the combustion process inside the spacecraft proceeded, it produced an enormous amount of gas. But the pressure was so high that the three of them – three very young, vigorous, well-trained, well-conditioned men could not pull that damn hatch back into the capsule and escape.
Mike Wallace: Walter I’m sure this hits you particularly hard because these men were friends of yours. You knew Gus Grissom from the beginning down at Cape Kennedy.
Walter Cronkite: Yes indeed, Mike, that’s of course true, and it does hit me hard. I think that – I think one thing should be said. This is a time for great sadness, national sadness and certainly the personal sadness of the people in the space program, but it’s also a time for courage. And if that sounds trite, I’ll change the words to guts. That this is a test program. We knew it was a test program and these guys who went into it knew it was a test program - a test program with equipment of this nature, as with anything where you’re operating within a hostile environment, which space is, and this was a hostile environment even if they were on the ground. This program is bound to claim it’s victims.
George Alexander: Initially NASA tried to hide the gruesome facts of their death. Did the three astronauts die instantaneously? Absolutely not. They lived for at least a minute before they died of smoke inhalation. Dead is dead, the space agency felt, let’s respect these men and their families and let it go with that.
Officer (military funeral procession): Firing squad fire three volley’s.
Valerie Anders: There was one funeral at West Point for Ed White, and we had another flight going to Arlington, so some of us went there. Some people managed to go to all the funerals, but it was – it was pretty chaotic the whole thing.
Frank Borman: Well, that was the beginning of a – of a very, very traumatic year for me and my family. I had a hard time, you know, I felt very hard for Ed White, and I felt very hard for Gus and Roger. We were – we were close. Our closest friends were Pat and Ed White, and his death devastated Pat. It was just a tough time.
Bill Anders: It was really tough for her and eventually she committed suicide.
Reporter: No one knows when the program will be resumed, but there’s a feeling here that Friday’s tragedy will only slow down the program for a short time. The big questions remain: how did the fire start? Why did it start? Did a spark come from an overloaded circuit? Was the spacecraft in internal or exterior power at the time of the flash?
Frank Borman: After the fire at the Cape, some people – they couldn’t handle it very well and there were a lot of – drinking and staying out and a lot of pill taking, and some of us got drunk, some of us went nuts. My anguish and my concern lasted about three days. Then, what’s next? Let’s get on with the job.
Reporter: The service tower on Pad 34 will be rolled back today and the painstaking work of removing the Apollo spacecraft from its Saturn booster will get under way. Then the spacecraft itself will be lifted off and the remains of it will be taken apart, bit by bit to see what went wrong.
Frank Borman: That was the most thorough examination up to that time of any accident. I’d climb in and say, ok, this switch is in the on position, and then we – we just went through. A wrench was found, a discarded wrench was found, in the space craft, and it was just clear that things had not been going as well as they should have. The absolute determination of what started the fire was never discovered. We believed we knew what happened. We believe that it was a frayed wire down around the Environmental Control System, but it was impossible to say with certainty, well, this failed or that failed.
Bill Anders: There were so many things wrong with the initial Apollo 1 spacecraft that I don’t think it would have survived a trip to the Moon. Pressurizing the spacecraft with a hundred percent oxygen – anything will burn, an asbestos fire blanket will burn. So why, NASA in all their otherwise brilliance, allowed this test to happen – it amazes me. But they did, and a spark ignited that thing.
Sergei Khruschchev: Before the American disaster, we have the same fire like it was in the Apollo, because both countries tried to build the spacecrafts as light as possible. And at first they thought let’s use the pure oxygen in the capsule, and one of these testing, the person who was there, he burned alive. He died, but Soviets kept it secret, they don’t want to publicize their disasters.
Senator Smith: Why wasn’t the seriousness of the situation regarding the multi-billion-dollar contracts at North American made known to the Committee? Would you not feel that the Chairman and other members of the Committee should have been briefed on the situation?
Senator Young: The facts are, are they not, that this Committee has a responsibility to pursue the matter to determine whether there was negligence on the part of….
Mark Bloom: Most of those Congressmen and the Senators didn’t have a clue what they were asking. They would ask questions and didn’t know how to follow up.
Sen. Cannon: Mr. Webb, I’d like to ask you first, whether or not that was a change and if it was a change, what was the specific change and what was the necessity for it?
Sen. Young: Referring to flammable materials and then the recommendation that…
Mark Bloom: There were Senators and Congressmen trying to get publicity for themselves, so no I don’t think those hearings were all that important, except politically speaking, and I don’t think there was ever a thought that they wouldn’t continue on to the Moon.
George Mueller: One has always to balance the risks in this – in one of these programs. There is no way of guaranteeing that every risk can be avoided, and I don’t – I don’t think we have eliminated risk from the program.
James Webb: The difficulties are related to the – the problems of going to the Moon and coming back, and we right now have a number of extremely serious situations but we also believe we know that we can overcome them and fly. They are no more difficult than those we faced over the last five or six years, maybe less difficult. And the problems of this week are never the problems of next week. It’s a constant series of a large number of problems with each one being solved, and another one emerges, and in the end you get to the point that you have enough confidence to launch the equipment.
Frank Borman: I testified for both the House and the Senate. You sit up before this committee and you’ve got reporters handing these guys questions to ask you, because the people there, they don’t know their butt from third base. Basically I think I said, why don’t you stop this witch hunt and let us get on with the job?
Bill Anders: Frank Borman, he led the review, and many changes resulted in a lot better space craft. The first hatches were designed as any sensible hatch guy would do, you know, so it wouldn’t blow out in space. And it turned out in retrospect that it was just one of a series of mistakes. The replacement hatch – it looked like a hatch engineer’s wet dream, with all these gears and latches and whatnot – I kept looking at it, thinking, jeeze don’t touch it.
Frank Borman: The subsequent actions instituted some very, very sweeping changes – management changes, technical changes were made, that gave us a vehicle that was far superior to the one that they died in. The lunar module, it was also lagging behind, it had never flown. They realized that there were all kinds of problems in that too.
Reporter: It looks like the worlds’ fanciest cocoon. Inside is a lunar module, one of the series of spacecraft designed to land Americans on the Moon before 1970. But the elaborate cocoon hides a troubled butterfly – an Apollo program substantially over budget, and so drastically behind schedule that the goal of a manned lunar landing in the 1960s may already be lost.
Frank Borman: The fire shook the confidence, the public confidence, in NASA. I think NASA had a really almost golden image and then all of a sudden that was shattered.
Senator Edmund Muskie: The space program, up to now, has been a crash program. In other words, we said we’re going to the Moon no matter what. Well, I think that we’ve got to abandon that emphasis. This doesn’t mean we abandon space – we can’t, we’re not likely to. Man has reached this threshold, he’s not going to back off. And so we’re going to continue our effort to probe ever deeper in space but it’s got to be at – in accordance with a different order of priorities. There are some things here on Earth that we should now do, no matter what.
Roger Launius: Everybody at NASA who worked on the Apollo program will tell you, is that in 1961 when they got the mission to go to the Moon, they sort of put their heads down to work on this problem. So the desperation of the civil rights crusade, the desire to have more inclusiveness – women’s rights and so on – all of the issues that were transformed during that era – they sort of got left behind, and these guys sort of missed the ‘60s.
Martin Luther King, Jr.: If our nation can spend thirty five billion dollars a year to fight an unjust evil war in Viet Nam, and twenty billion dollars to put a man on the Moon, it can spend billions of dollars to put God’s children on their own two feet, right here on Earth.
Frank Borman: You know 1968 wasn’t a very good year, from the standpoint of Americans, with the assassinations and the war in Viet Nam. I was aware of what was going on, but I was not part of that scene. I was totally engrossed in trying to get to the Moon and back. So it was almost as if I was living in another planet then.
Wernher von Braun: There are many other things competing for public interest. There’s an election coming up, and there’s a war going on in Viet Nam and there are problems in the cities and quite a few people seem to believe that we have taken money away from the public purse. We prefer to see our space program in a somewhat different light. We believe that we are actually producing values and we are producing values at a faster rate than we are taking money out of the Treasury.
Bill Anders: Early on we were all trotted around to Huntsville and other places where they were building parts of the Saturn 5.
Wernher von Braun: The Saturn 5 is taller than the Statue of Liberty. It can carry a pay load of 280,000 pounds into low Earth orbit, which is the equivalent of about thirty-five Gemini space craft. With this vehicle, the flight to the Moon will be accomplished.
Bill Anders: It was basically an analog rocket. We had less intelligence in its guidance system than I have in a Cassio watch. It probably was the most complicated pile of technology that anybody had built.
Ed Buckbee: Von Braun believed in testing. I cannot emphasize that term enough – test, test, test. Test to the point it breaks. His idea was you test the first booster. Once you’re satisfied that the first stage is successful, then you put the live second stage on, you test that until you’re satisfied that those two stages are correct, and finally you put the third stage on, and you test it. We ground tested all of those stages before they ever shipped to the Cape for launch. Well, that was the concept.
When George Mueller became involved, he was Von Braun’s boss, you know Mueller says, if we’re going to beat the Russians and we’re going to do it within this decade, we’ve got to jump-start this program. So why not go all-up, un-manned, with all three stages hot, and look at everything carefully. He came up with the idea of the all-up test. Von Braun did not believe in all-up. He was not comfortable with that at all because they had never followed that process.
Mark Bloom: This was the first un-manned test of the Saturn 5, the rocket that was going to take men to the Moon. So, everyone was there. And it was the first launching after the Apollo fire. If that failed, then NASA was not going to get to the Moon during the decade.
George Alexander: Just this enormous – enormous – structure, and you knew that once it was filled with kerosene and liquid oxygen, you were dealing with a very massive, tremendous amount of energy, just mind-boggling.
Mark Bloom: I mean it was everybody was, this seven-and-a-half-million pounds of thrust in the first stage – and what does that mean really? I mean, it sounds impressive, but what would it really mean when they launched? By that time, the networks had all built trailers at the Cape, and they had large windows that looked out on the launch site, three-and-a-half miles away. And nobody quite knew what the Saturn 5 was going to do.
November 9, 1967
Jack King: On the first Saturn 5 launch, you know when I say ignition sequence start...10, 9, ignition sequence start. You’ve got those five giant engines, and they ignite, and it takes the remainder of the countdown for them build up that seven-and-a-half million pounds of thrust. Five, four, we have ignition. All engines are running. And there it was, sitting in a bed of flames. It seemed like an eternity. And there was still five giant swing arms attached to that rocket, and then all of a sudden it would slowly lift off. We have liftoff, we have liftoff at 7am.
Mark Bloom: We were three and a half miles away, so you could see it, but the sound and shock wave took several seconds to get to us.
Jack King: I thought the whole damn roof was going to come down on top of us. Walter Cronkite was knocked off his chair in his trailer over at the press site.
Walter Cronkite: Oh its terrific! The building’s shaking! This big glass window is shaking and we’re holding it with our hands. Look at that rocket go!
Ed Buckbee: Everyone just looked around and said, you know, it really did work, I mean it’s fantastic. Its working, working!
Reporter: Dr. Von Braun, whenever there’s a space accomplishment, the question inevitably arises – are we ahead, or are we behind? How about this?
Wernher von Braun: Well I would say the Soviet program has definitely more momentum than ours. Their relative commitment as a nation to the space program is estimated to be about twice as high as ours.
Reporter: There’s a lot of talk again about what the Russians may be doing or are about to do. Could you please give us your assessment of the talk about their big booster, about Zond 5, and when they may try circumlunar flights or lunar landings?
Wernher von Braun: Well, my assessment of Zond 5, that was the Soviet spacecraft that looped the Moon and re-entered over the Indian ocean, and was successfully recovered by Soviet ships in the Indian Ocean - was a dress-rehearsal for a manned flight.
Frank Borman: I was out at Downey, California, doing a test on the Apollo 8 spacecraft. I got a call from Deke Slayton, said, get back here right away, I need to talk to you. So I got in an airplane and I went back, and I walked in the door, and I remember Deke said, close the door. And he said that the CIA had information that the Russians were going to try to go to the Moon, and that they – that he wanted to know if we could move our mission from a February or March launch to a December launch and go to the Moon, if we could retrain ourselves. This was in August. And I said, yes, we could.
Bill Anders: We had been told, that the Soviets were going to try to launch the first manned-flight up and around the Moon. It was proven that they, indeed, tried it unmanned, they had selected crew to fly a manned flight. Many of the earlier flights were unsuccessful for various reasons. So, unbeknownst to us, the Russians got cold feet. But NASA under the threat of having the Soviets scoop them yet again, decided to shuffle the Apollo flights, take Apollo 8 whose lunar module was behind schedule anyway, give us the first Saturn 5, and on that we would just go around the moon without a Lunar Module.
Frank Boreman: My odds for mission success were a hundred percent. If I didn’t think I was coming back, I wasn’t going to go. Bill Anders, I think had figured out, think he said, thirty percent for mission success. But he was more analytical than I am.
Bill Anders: Well it was a big rocket, full of very explosive stuff. We went through the drill of escaping, which was riding a wire and then jumping down to a shoot, and then jumping down there and landing in a room on springs and padded chairs, and I thought, we’ll never get that far. And so the chance of beating the Russians with this mere threat of the Saturn 5 blowing up was not a big factor at least in my concern. The last thing we wanted to do was screw up – we’d rather die than screw up in public. Standard fighter pilot view.
Poppy Northcutt: They accelerated the schedule on Apollo 8 so much, the flight controllers had not had time to train on the Return to Earth capability which was really the big new thing on that mission. Well, I was on the Return to Earth program. I was a Return to Earth specialist, by the time we were flying Apollo 8. So, we went in to help them learn how to use the Return to Earth program.
Jules Bergman (Jules Bergman interview with Northcutt): Poppy, what do you actually do during space flights here in Mission Control?
Poppy Northcutt: Well, my job is to get the astronauts safely back to Earth from the Moon.
Jules Bergman: What does that mean exactly?
Poppy Northcutt: Well, it means determining what their position is, the present position, feeding the information into a computer program, and getting back their maneuver angels and how much thrust they have to have to get back to the Earth.
Jules Bergman: So you’re computing their trajectory for the Return to Earth?
Poppy Northcutt: That’s right. It was a complete peculiarity to have a woman in an operational role in mission control. I was the first one. For quite a while, I was the only woman in the technical role in Houston. There were some computer programmers, a few of those, but in terms of working on the engineering side, I was the only one. So, I did interviews with all kinds of people.
British reporter (interview with Northcutt): But how did a girl of only twenty-five get into this job at such an early age?
Poppy Northcutt: Well, I studied mathematics in college, and I came to work here right out of school. I’ve been working on this particular project ever since I came to work here.
British reporter: Aren’t the men jealous of you?
Poppy Northcutt: No, I don’t think so. It was a very sexist society at that time, which informed my becoming a feminist. I started off working as a computress. I don’t know why they called them computresses. We weren’t necessarily doing computer work. It was sort of like Mad Men. That was a fairly accurate depiction of the world for women. But I was really fascinated. I wanted to know what I was doing, and why I was doing it. And I had a math degree, and I’d taken a celestial mechanics course, so I just worked my butt off. They guys that I was working around could tell that I was working really hard. I was working as hard as they were, or even harder to be honest. I mean it was a boy’s club, no doubt about it. I was sort of the trophy. I was blonde, I was young, I was thin, I wore, you know, the ladies’ fashion clothes.
Jules Bergman: How much attention do men in Mission Control pay to a pretty girl wearing mini-skirts?
Poppy Northcutt: Well I think the first time a girl in a mini-skirt comes into the MOCR they pay you quite a lot of attention, but after a while they become a little bit more accustomed to you and pay a little more attention to the consoles.
Bergman: Its been charged that when you walk into the Mission Operations Control Room the mission grinds to a screeching halt.
Poppy Northcutt: That’s not true. Well, of course I was being used. My feeling was, you can play this both ways. The mere fact that a lot of women found out for the first time that there was a woman on Mission Control was a very big deal. I thought it was important that people understand that women can do these jobs – going into science, going into technology, going into you know, doing something that’s not stereotypical.
Announcer: Coverage of the Apollo 8 mission, a presentation of ABC news, is brought to you by Tang, the instant breakfast drink.
Frank Reynolds: Apollo 8 is the next necessary step in realizing the goal outlined by President Kennedy in 1961. No astronaut will set foot on the surface of the….
Frank Borman: NASA wanted me to allow a film crew to come into the house while we were up on our way to the Moon.
Jules Bergman: They are in their Command Module…
Frank Borman: I mentioned this to Susan, and she was opposed to it. She didn’t want it, but I said, Susan, look – this is going to be important for the space program.
Jules Bergman: And there on pad 39 we can see liquid oxygen fumes coming from the first stage…
December 21, 1968
Valerie Anders: When there was a flight, all the wives would usually go to the home of the wife whose husband was up there, and bring food and take care of children and do whatever was necessary – run errands. And so there was a support there that was interconnected, and the children felt that too. You know it was, oh whose dad is going up next?
Jules Bergman: 22 minutes and 38 seconds before liftoff, all still going well. Colonel Frank Borman, the forty-year-old command pilot of Apollo 8 is a veteran astronaut for these past six years. How risky is this flight compared to Gemini 7, your 14 day flight?
Frank Borman: It’s more risky than Gemini 7, there’s no question about that. We have the…
Frank Borman: The fire shattered my wife’s confidence in NASA and in the Apollo program. She had always thought that the – somehow it always happens to the other guy. Well, when it happened to Ed White, that resonated with Susan and she began to fantasize that I might be in the same situation. And the subsequent interaction with Pat White had left Susan shaken, and drinking too much.
Frank Reynolds: Well all seems to be going very well at Cape Kennedy. We are twelve minutes and forty-eight seconds away from launch time.
Reporter: Man is about to leave his planet for the first time. Odds are against a major systems failure but if one occurred, the men could be lost.
Poppy Northcutt: We were fixing errors very close to flight time, which you’re not supposed to be doing, you’re supposed to have you know, sealed the system, and we were still fixing errors. My feeling was they were flying with baling wire and rubber bands.
Walter Cronkite: Everybody here at Cape Kennedy knows how much is riding on this one, and here’s how the mission will be flown. This is the Earth, the launch takes place from the Cape here, goes into orbit – Earth orbit – makes two loops around the Earth as the spacecraft systems are being checked out by the pilots. When they decide they are going to commit to lunar flight, they will fire off their third-stage engine, two hundred thousand pounds of it here and that will take them out into what’s called the trans-lunar trajectory. They will drop that third stage and then be on their own for the two-and-a-half day flight to the Moon.
Jack King: T minus 50 seconds and counting, we have the power transferred, we’re now on the flight batteries within the launch vehicle. 45 seconds, final reports coming from Frank Borman at this time, final look at the switch list aboard the spacecraft. Thirty-five seconds and counting. We’ll lead up to an ignition sequence start at 8.9 seconds. This will lead up as we build up the thrust to a liftoff, if all goes well, at zero. We just passed the 25 second mark in the count. 20 seconds all aspects we are still go at this time. T minus 15, 14, 13, 12, 11, 10, 9 – we have ignition sequence start, the engines are armed. 4, 3, 2, 1, 0. We have commit – we have – we have liftoff. Liftoff at 7:51am Eastern Standard Time. We have cleared the tower.
Bill Anders: We trained for almost everything for an Apollo flight. Emergencies after emergencies in the simulators. The one thing that we didn’t train for was the dynamics of the Saturn 5 lift off. The first twenty seconds were violent. We were literally slammed back and forth in the seats. I felt like a rat in the jaws of a giant terrier. You couldn’t hear yourself think.
Jules Bergman: Now from 42,000 feet, with a speed of almost 2,000 miles an hour at this instant. There’s that majestic plume of flame behind the Saturn 5 as she thunders into the sky gathering speed.
Paul Haney: Frank Borman has confirmed each event with Mike Collins at this point.
Jules Bergman: There it is, staging in the burn out of the first stage engines, right on the money.
Paul Haney: We can see the first stage cut off.
Jules Bergman: 6,000 miles an hour. More than 225,000 feet high, burning beautifully, Borman, Lovell, and Anders off perfectly….
Paul Haney: … has been relieved at the Cape. 3 minutes into the flight we’re 50 miles high….
Jules Bergman: There’s the escape tower separating.
Paul Haney: … and about 10 miles downrange. We have SECO says Frank Borman. SECO, and I would call it 11 minutes, 30 seconds.
Jules Bergman: And they are in orbit, that’s Frank Borman’s voice in the background saying we have SECO. In two hours and thirty-three minutes from now over Australia, Borman, Lovell, and Anders will fire up that S-4B engine again, or attempt to fire it up again, to propel themselves to escape velocity – twenty-five thousand miles an hour. The first men in history to leave the gravitational field of the Earth and head out toward another planet – the Moon.
Bill Anders: We only had an orbit and a half to make sure it was working, because once you lit that third stage, there wasn’t any coming back.
Michael Collins: Apollo 8, Houston.
Frank Borman: Go ahead Houston.
Michael Collins: Apollo 8, you are a go for TLI, over.
Jim Lovell: Roger, understand, we’re a go for TLI.
Ed Buckbee: Mission control told the astronauts you’re a go for TLI – and everybody in the pressroom – what is TLI?
Michael Collins: You got a situation where a guy with a radio transmitter in his hand is going to tell the first three human beings they can leave the gravitational field of Earth. I can remember at the time thinking, Jesus, you know, there’s got to be a better way of saying this, but we had our technical jargon. So you know I said, Apollo 8 you’re go for TLI.
Ed Buckbee: Trans Lunar Insertion. That’s the first time we’d ever heard that call to the crew. It means, you’re going to launch out of Earth orbit on an escape velocity 25,000 miles an hour.
Michael Collins: Apollo 8, coming up on 20 seconds to the ignition, mark it, and you’re looking very good.
Frank Borman: Roger.
Bill Anders: I mean we trained, and go for TLI, we’d heard it 30 times in the simulator, and yeah it was a little different.
Frank Borman: Ignition.
Michael Collins: Roger, ignition.
Bill Anders: Particularly when that rocket cut in, and unlike the simulator you could feel this push, for quite a few minutes.
Michael Collins: Apollo 8, Houston, trajectory and guidance look good over.
Frank Borman: Roger, Apollo 8 good here.
Bill Anders: So we knew we were going like scalded dogs there by the time that engine cut out, and that’s when we set the world speed record. Seven miles a second. Twenty-five thousand miles an hour.
Reporter: Mrs. Borman, what did your husband have to say when you last saw him?
Susan Borman: You mean when we said goodbye?
Reporter: Yes, ma’am.
Susan Borman: Now, that’s very personal, you know that. But he – all through the week on our phone conversations…
Valerie Anders: It was daunting to go outside, because the reporters never left. I didn’t go out there myself because it was too overwhelming.
Susan Borman: Really, I’d love – I’d love nothing better than to make a beautiful profound statement for you that would be Earth-shaking for everyone, but I’m – I’m just speechless, I – this hasn’t sunk in yet.
Reporter: Which days was – most – did you feel the most intense about?
Susan Borman: Well I think both the launch, and then the burn into – what do they call it?
Susan Borman: The TLI, thank you very much, I think both of those would pretty much go hand in hand emotionally.
Advertisement narrator(Tang commercial): This is a typical meal served to astronauts aboard Apollo space flights. Oatmeal, sausage, toast, applesauce, and in a special zero-gravity pouch – Tang – the energy breakfast drink. Tang, the rich….
Bill Anders: Before flight they wanted us to basically try the personal items, like the food. They wanted to make sure we weren’t allergic. One of the things was the Fecal Containment Device. Sounds pretty highfaluting, Fecal Containment Device. The Fecal Containment Device looked like a plastic top hat, with a sticky rim, stick it to your bottom, and it had a built-in glove. So I tested this thing and resolved that I would see if I could avoid using it. I went the whole flight without taking a crap.
Michael Collins: Apollo 8, this is Houston, over.
Frank Borman: Go ahead Houston, how do you read?
Michael Collins: Alright, well we’re reading you loud and clear. We’re on a private loop now, and we’d like to get some amplifying details on your medical problem. Could you go back to the beginning and give us a brief re-cap please?
Bill Anders: Poor Frank got sick. Frank had thrown up, and not only threw up but he was what us engineers call a balanced couple – both ends you know. It was a mess. Just imagine a bunch of diarrhea and vomit floating around right in front of you. I grabbed an oxygen mask that was only supposed to be worn during fire. I put the mask on, because it didn’t smell good at all. We didn’t announce that to the Earth, because we had a special channel that I knew about, being a communications guy, where we could put it on tape and it didn’t go through NASA public affairs.
Frank Borman: Mike, this is Frank. I’m feeling a lot better now. I think I got a case of the 24 hour flu, intestinal flu.
Michael Collins: Roger, understand. And when did you first notice it? Or could you go back to P00 and start us out with the beginning of your problem?
Bill Anders: Wasn’t much they could do about it anyway because we certainly weren’t coming back. We finally got the place cleaned up but it’s amazing how you can learn to live in a filthy environment. After a while you kind of get used to it.
Frank Reynolds: If all those great big antennas and that little four-and-a-half pound camera works, as everybody expects it to, we’re due for some very exciting pictures. Possibly even more exciting, than the ones that were sent back by the crew of Apollo 7.
Frank Borman: Do you have a picture now?
Man: That’s a negative.
Man: ECOM, are you the television expert? FAO, who knows the most about that camera? Got any suggestions?
Frank Borman: What I wanted to do more than anything else was to go to the Moon and come back, and I didn’t want anything that might deter that mission. And somehow I figured that the television might do that.
Mission Control: Apollo 8 we have a picture now.
Bill Anders: He’s on candid camera! Frank was strictly mission oriented, he didn’t want to have anything that would detract from the success of the mission. So, he balked at the TV camera. We didn’t need it. We were there to show that we could go around the Moon and we’d beat the Russians in going around the Moon, and so, who needed a TV camera? Well, I thought we out to have it, just to be able to show the people on Earth, you know, what we were doing.
Frank Borman: I was overruled, rightfully so, because after all, the American people deserved to see what they were getting for their money. We’re rolling around to a good view of the Earth, and as soon as we get to the good view of the Earth, we’ll stop and let you look out the window at the scene we see.
Walter Cronkite: I assume that shortly we’ll get some explanation of the picture we’re seeing – doesn’t make a great deal of sense to me, here at the moment.
Paul Haney: We’re theorizing here that that bright spot in top left center of your picture is the Earth.
Michael Collins: That’s the best centering we’ve had, Apollo 8, if you could just hold that, that’s perfect.
Frank Borman: Well I hope that everyone is enjoying the picture that we’re taking of themselves. How far away from Earth, now, Jim, about?
Michael Collins: We have you about 180,000.
Frank Borman: Alright well you’re all looking at yourselves as seen from 180,000 miles.
Bill Anders: You know Jules Verne would portray astronauts, cosmonauts as peering out the window, watching the Moon get bigger and bigger. As a matter of fact, we never saw the Moon until we got there. One of the reasons why, was that NASA, rightly, was worried that since we went during a very new Moon, that meant that the Sun was almost behind the Moon. So anybody looking at it, would be looking right at an unfiltered Sun, and they worried it would hurt our eyes.
Mission control: Apollo 8, Houston, one minute to LOS, all systems go.
Apollo 8: Alright. Roger. Command reset, tape recorder, forward, low bit rate.
Mission control: Roger. Safe journey guys
Bill Anders: Thanks a lot troops.
Jim Lovell: We’ll see you on the other side.
Bill Anders: It wasn’t until we actually were getting ready to go into lunar orbit when we turned the space craft backwards and were preparing to re-ignite the Service Propulsion Engine to slow us down. And we went into the shadow of the Moon. It was this huge black void, and that was the Moon. And I must say that the hair went up on the back of my neck, when I saw that.
Mission control: Apollo 8, Houston, over.
Poppy Northcutt: When they went behind the Moon the first time we had what you call Loss Of Signal. So no radio contact. And then you have a predicted time for Acquisition Of Signal as they come back around. But they do their maneuver on the back side of the Moon. That maneuver behind the Moon is very critical because if they come out too early it’s not good, if they come out too late, it’s not good. They really need to be coming out when you think they’re going to come out – or they may be running into the Moon.
Mission control: Apollo 8, Houston, over. Apollo control, Houston, we’ve heard nothing yet, but we’re standing by.
Poppy Northcutt: Well, they didn’t come out on time.
Mission control: Apollo 8, Houston, over.
Poppy Northcutt: During the mission itself, I sat in the staff support room, not the room that you would see on TV at that time. In the room where I was, I don’t think anybody was breathing the whole time, I mean you were just watching that clock, and you were hearing the CapCom calling out, and nobody was answering.
Mission control: Apollo 8, Houston, over.
Poppy Northcutt: And I’ve never had such a small amount of time seem so long.
Mission control: Apollo 8, Apollo 8, this is Houston, Houston, over.
Frank Borman: Roger, Houston. We read you loud and clear. How you read us?
Mission control: Apollo 8, this is Houston reading you loud and clear now... We’ve got it, we’ve got it. Apollo 8 now in lunar orbit, there’s a cheer in this room. This is Apollo control Houston switching now to the voice of Jim Lovell.
Valerie Anders: The three wives had a squawk box in the house, to see what was going on on the flight.
Jim Lovell: Burn complete. Our orbit is 169.1 by 60.5.
Mission control: Apollo 8, this is Houston, Roger 169.1 by 60.5. Good to hear your voice
Valerie Anders: But when they came out from behind the Moon, Marilyn and Susan and I got together, at Susan Borman’s house, and we all just rejoiced. It was one of those things where there were so many untried, unknown parts of that flight, that each step, you’d think well, can this be successful again?
Jim Lovell: We don’t know whether you can see it from the TV screen, but the moon is nothing but a milky white, completely void. We’re changing the cameras to the other window now.
Walter Cronkite: They’ve got two windows from which they can get good clear pictures from the spacecraft.
Frank Borman: …We’re switching so that we can show you the Moon, that we’ve been flying over at 60 miles, altitude, for the last 16 hours. Bill Anders, Jim Lovell and myself, have spent the day before Christmas up here, doing experiments, taking pictures, and firing our space craft engines to maneuver around. What we’ll do now is follow the trail that we’ve been following all day and take you on to a lunar sunset.
Bill Anders: Backside of the Moon, for reasons that still are in debate, is much rougher, no Mare, a lot of craters – looked like a battlefield, all torn up.
Frank Borman: I know my own impression is that it’s a vast, lonely, forbidding type existence, or expanse of nothing. It looks really like clouds and clouds of pumice stone, and it certainly would not appear to be a very inviting place to live or work. Jim what have you thought?
Bill Anders: We were busy, you know, looking at the surface, and curious, but I must say it got boring fast. I mean, you look at a crater and they all look alike, and Lovell had the same reaction through the navigation telescope. It all looked the same. The closer you looked, the more holes there were.
Frank Borman: I hope that all of you back on Earth can see what we mean when we say it’s a rather foreboding horizon, a rather dark and unappetizing.
Bill Anders: Is that our landing site over there?
Jim Lovell: Yeah, this is our landing site right down here.
Bill Anders: We’re now going over, approaching, one of our future landing sites, selected in this smooth region to – it’s called the Sea of Tranquility, smooth in order to make it easy for the initial landing attempt, in order to preclude having to dodge mountains.
Bill Anders: So by the time we got around the third revolution, by this time, we’d sort of saturated on the Moon.
Bill Anders: Oh my god, look at that picture over there. That is the Earth coming up. Wow, isn’t that pretty!
Frank Borman: Hey don’t take that it’s not scheduled (laugh).
Bill Anders: You got a color film Jim? Hand me a role of color quick, would you?
Jim Lovell: Oh man, that’s great. Where is it?–
Bill Anders: Hurry. Quick!
Bill Anders: And so here was something that was different. Absolutely not briefed on, nobody had told us on the ground that the Earth was going to come up. We had no photographic instructions, no light meter.
Jim Lovell: Down here?
Bill Anders: Just grab me a color, a color exterior. Anything. Quick.
Jim Lovell: Here.
Bill Anders: Just let me get the right setting. Calm down. Calm down Lovell.
Jim Lovell: Oh I got it right – oh that’s a beautiful shot. You’re sure we got it now?
Bill Anders: Yeah, it’ll come up again.
Bill Anders: And suddenly here was this beautiful shot, only color in the universe.
Bill Anders: It would become the top 10 photograph of the twentieth century. But of course I’m the guy that took it, what else would I say?
Frank Borman: Well, let’s talk about that, that’s what I want – why don’t we do this, why don’t you hold it out the window like you did and I’ll say a couple words and then we’ll say something about how this kind of reminds you how it might have started. We gotta do it up right because there’ll be more people will listen to this than ever listened to any other single person in history.
Frank Borman: We’d been told before the flight, when you’re televising from the Moon on Christmas eve, you’ll have the largest audience that’s ever listened to a human voice. I said, that’s nice, what do you want us to do? Do something appropriate! We thought, what’s appropriate?
Bill Anders: Frank Borman went and asked a friend of his, who asked his wife.
Bill Anders: And she said, well why don’t you just tell them to read from the first book of Genesis, which, you know the creation myth, or the creation story, is pretty fundamental.
Frank Borman: And we looked at it, and we thought, all of us, this is perfect! And for all the people back on Earth, the crew of Apollo 8 has a message that we would like to send to you. In the beginning, God created the Heaven and the Earth, and the earth was without form, and void, and darkness was upon the face of the deep, and the spirit of God moved upon the face of the water, and God said, let there be light, and there was light, and God saw the light, that it was good, and God divided the light from the darkness.
Bill Anders: I can’t speak for the other guys, but to me it was not a religious thing, so much as it was a kind of a hard hit to the psychological solar plexus, that would help mark, to humankind the gravity – so to speak – of man’s first departure from his home planet.
Frank Borman:…and the gathering together of the waters called He seas; and God saw that it was good. And from the crew of Apollo 8, we close with goodnight, good luck, a Merry Christmas, and God bless all of you, all of you on the good Earth.
Reporter: How’s your day been?
Valerie Anders: The day’s been hectic. We tried to sleep in because we’d been up so late. Christmas got a little bit late this morning. So I think we’re late to church. Thank you.
Susan Borman: Merry Christmas, thanks for being so patient.
Reporter: How was this morning?
Marilyn Lovell: It’s actually a very lonesome Christmas this morning. I miss Jim, but – it’s one of the happiest Christmases I think I’ll ever have.
Bill Anders: All religions are based on the fact that the Earth is the focus of the universe, and God sits up there with his super computer and keeps track of all the rights and wrongs. Orbiting Earth, and then going to the Moon – it’s given me a different outlook. The Earth is really nowhere near as special as we’d like to think it is. Though it is our home planet for humans, and it’s the only one we’ve got right now and there’s none in easy site to get to, so therefore we ought to take care of it. But, we shouldn’t think that this is the designated center of everything.
Jim Lovell: Well did you guys ever think that one Christmas Eve you’d be orbiting the moon?
Bill Anders: Let’s hope we’re not doing it on New Year’s.
Jim Lovell: Hey, hey don’t talk like that Bill. Think positive.
Mission control: We show a loss of signal with the space craft. We are now about twenty-eight minutes prior to our Trans-Earth Injection maneuver.
Poppy Northcutt: You’re going to fire your engine basically one time, and that’s got to take you all the way home. A small miss, at the beginning, when you fire the engine, can represent a heck of a large miss at the end, like missing the whole planet.
Jim Lovell: Houston, Apollo 8, over.
Mission control: Hello, Apollo 8. Loud and clear.
Jim Lovell: Roger, please be informed there is a Santa Claus.
Mission control: Apollo 8, can you confirm your burn time please?
Jim Lovell: Roger we have three minutes, twenty-three seconds.
Mission control: Thank you.
Bill Anders: We were much faster on the way home. And we came in at night. We were in pitch darkness, and the parachutes – all we could feel was the jerk.
Bill Anders: When the sun finally came up, I remember getting out on the carrier and walking across the deck, thinking if I don’t get to a toilet, I’m going to be embarrassed right in front of everybody. That’s my un-recorded world record, three quarters of a million miles without taking a crap.
Susan Borman: I’m still speechless. Just tremendous relief and just truly the happiest day. I just can’t explain.
Valerie Anders: I couldn’t believe it was going so perfectly, and I couldn’t believe that they actually sited that thing from the ship in the dark.
Marilyn Lovell: And I am so proud for our country that we could accomplish – or our husbands could accomplish - this mission.
President Johnson: There’s just no other comparison that we can make that’s equal to what you’ve done, or to what we feel. Because you’ve seen what man has really never seen before. You’ve taken us, taken all of us all over the world into a new era. And my thoughts this morning went back to more than ten years ago in the Pedernalis Valley when we saw Sputnik racing through the skies, and we realized that America had a big job ahead of it. It gave me so much pleasure to know that you men have done a large part of that job. So we rejoice that you’re well, and we send you congratulations from all of your fellow countrymen, and from all peace-loving people in the world. Well done.
Walter Cronkite: Today a great new chapter has been added to the story of creation and of growth. Man literally has wrenched himself away from the Earth that bound him down through the millennium. A year of trouble and turbulence, anger and assassination, is now coming to an end in incandescent triumph.
Valerie Anders: I don’t know that I was prepared for that. My mother kept saying, do you only have one dress? But you know, we didn’t have any money so I only did have one dress. So we went to New York, and New York was the ticker tape parade. And then we went to Houston and all – all of the children were with us, in the Houston parade. It was – it was an interesting time.
Poppy Northcutt: Afterwards, I got letters from all around the world. I got tons of letters from African countries, all over the world, addressed to Poppy, Space Program, USA. I got marriage proposals. I got letters from little girls all around the world too. You know, I got tons of recognition that women could do a job that they never had thought before. So, was it sexist? Yes. But you gotta start somewhere.
Frank Borman: We had thousands of letters and telegrams and so on, after we got back from Apollo 8. But the one that really caught my attention was a lady that said, thank-you, you saved 1968.
George Alexander: Well now that you’re back on Earth, and you had a sample of these receptions and parades, I guess you’re aware of the fact that your lives will never be free again of the moon’s influence. Were you prepared to deal with this before the flight and how do you feel about it now?
Jim Lovell: I feel that, right now, we are merely symbols of a program of which all Americans should be proud. But shortly we are going to have more flights, and shortly we’re going to have people who actually land, and walk, and explore the lunar surface. And I think these new symbols will far overshadow perhaps what we’ve done.
George Herman: Colonel Borman, that old master of rocketry, Wernher von Braun, has said that a circumlunar – a flight around the moon – gives you 80% of the credit with only 20% of the risk. Does that mean that 80% of the risk of landing on the Moon is still ahead of you all?
Frank Borman: I haven’t tried to asses it in percentage points, but I would say that definitely the extremely risky part of the flight will be the actual touchdown on the lunar surface.