Feature

Cronkite Remembered for Coverage of Apollo Launches
07.17.09
 
Veteran journalist, Walter Cronkite, hosts news broadcast on the Apollo missions. Image above: CBS news anchor, Walter Cronkite, covered NASA missions from Mercury through the space shuttle. Image credit: CBS News.

NASA fondly remembers veteran broadcast journalist Walter Cronkite who died July 17 at his home. He was 92.

"From the earliest days of the space program, Walter brought the excitement, the drama and the achievements of space flight directly into our homes," said NASA Administrator Charles Bolden. ( ›Full Statement)

Apollo 11 Commander Neil Armstrong said Cronkite "had a passion for human space exploration, an enthusiasm that was contagious, and the trust of his audience. He will be missed." (› Full Statement)

Cronkite was admired for his enthusiastic coverage of America's technological prowess, especially NASA's space missions, from the early Mercury launches, through the ground-breaking Gemini missions, to the subsequent moon landings and the space shuttle program.

From the beginning of America's manned space program to the age of the space shuttle, Cronkite anchored CBS Evening News. He was on air during the launch of Apollo 11, shouting "go, baby, go" as it rocketed into space. His marathon, live coverage of the first manned mission to Moon brought the excitement and impact of the historic event into the homes of millions of Americans and observers around the world. He spent 27 of the next 30 hours on the air.

Watch Video: Cronkite Discusses Apollo 11:


In a 1996 interview with Kira Albin, Cronkite opined that "the whole period of the '60s changed a lot of us; there was never a decade like that in American history ... to have the decade capture one of the great accomplishments of this century: man landing on the moon. That will be the one event of the 20th century, despite all the other great scientific and technological innovations and inventions that came down the line, that will live in history 500 years from now."

Walter Cronkite Veteran journalist Walter Cronkite is honored at a ceremony, above, in Austin, Texas in February 2006.
Credit: NASA

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In honor of his iconic coverage of America's space program, NASA presented Cronkite with an Ambassador of Exploration Award on Feb. 28, 2006 at a ceremony in Austin, Texas. He was the only Ambassador of Exploration recipient who was not an astronaut or NASA employee.

Calling the honor, "beyond anything I could have ever believed," Cronkite said he wanted to share it with his fellow journalists who covered the great adventure of space exploration. "It's hard for us to really understand the immensity so far of the conquest of space," he said.

At the awards ceremony, Cronkite drew parallels between Apollo 11 and Christopher Columbus' 1492 landing on the Americas:

" I think that 500 years from now the young people that are living on space stations and space cities and perhaps on the orbs themselves out there ... they will be recognizing the most important feat of all time. 500 years from now they will be celebrating the first landing on the moon and the first walk on the moon."

He also quipped that the Apollo 11 landing was the only time he'd ever been left speechless -- "What I said was 'Gosh! Wow! Gee!' -- immortal words obviously."

REFERENCES
http://www.grandtimes.com/cronkite.html
http://www.museum.tv/archives/etv/C/htmlC/cronkitewal/cronkitewal.htm