Monday, January 23, 2012
THE ABC'S OF SPACE COVERAGE - SPECIAL REPORT ON PROJECT GEMINI LAUNCH - ABC-TV - CIRCA JULY 17, 1966
LIVE television and the American, manned space flight program were, truly, a marriage made in the heavens.
That's exactly where the story took millions of fascinated viewers, here and around the globe.
While American Astronauts and Soviet Cosmonauts explored the frontiers of space, broadcast journalists challenged the new frontier of LIVE, wall-to-wall,space coverage with the added advantage of COLOR television technology.
In 1966, NASA, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration, was conducting Project Gemini, the second phase in the mythic journey to set foot on the moon.
Starting in 1961, Project Mercury put pioneers like Alan Shepard and John Glenn into space and into orbit for the first time.
In the late 1960's. Project Apollo would propel men like Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin to touch the surface of the Moon, for the first time in human history.
Project Gemini was the initiative that launched two men into space inside a single capsule to test the systems and cultivate the skills needed to leave Earth's orbit and reach for the stars.
(YOUNG & COLLINS)
On a warm summer day in July of 1966, NASA would , first, launch a satellite atop an Atlas-Agena rocket into orbit.100 minutes later Gemini 10, with astronauts John Young and Michael Collins ( who, 3 years later, went to lunar orbit in Apollo 11 ) aboard, roared aloft, atop a Minuteman ballistic missile.
Once in orbit, they would target the satellite and dock with it, high above the Earth.Perfecting the rendezvous maneuver at high velocity in space, was imperative for the Project Apollo lunar landing system to work. Astronaut Young also made a daring Space Walk or EVA ( extra vehicular activity).
In 1966,ABC-TV was a network that appealed to the very young viewers with shows like BATMAN, SHINDIG! and THE FLINTSTONES.But,its news division, which would become the gold standard for network news coverage in the 1990's under the iconic Roone Arledge, was under-funded and under-watched.
It's an age old formula in television,and you don't need to understand complex,orbital mechanics to do the math:
limited resources = low ratings + low revenues.
Even with an honorable news product , plus talented ,versatile,young correspondents like Peter Jennings, Steve Bell and Ted Koppel and the added expertise of space specialist, reporter Jules Bergman, ABC could command respect, but not an audience.
They simply could not compete with CBS's Walter Cronkite or NBC's Chet Huntley & David Brinkley. Nor could ABC overcome the fact that their rival networks had more affiliated stations to deliver their coverage to many more loyal, news viewers.
Here from the efan 2011 YOU TUBE SITE , is a short clip from an ABC NEWS SPECIAL REPORT on the launch of the Atlas Agena rocket and the Gemini 10 spacecraft. Enjoy!!