Lunar Module Antares sitting on the moon
Saturday, February 6, 1971
The Apollo 14 mission, with a crew of Alan Shepard, Jr., Stuart A. Roosa, and Edgar D. Mitchell, was launched from the Kennedy Space Center, Florida, on January 31, 1971. It was the third mission to achieve lunar landing. The spacecraft landed in the Fra Mauro highlands, the same area that was to have been explored on Apollo 13.
Although the primary mission objectives for Apollo 14 were the same as those of Apollo 13, provisions were made for returning a significantly greater quantity of lunar material and scientific data than had been possible previously. An innovation that allowed an increase in the range of lunar surface exploration and the amount of material collected was the provision of a collapsible two wheeled cart, the modular equipment transporter (MET), for carrying tools, cameras, a portable magnetometer, and lunar samples. Lunar liftoff occurred on February 6, 1971 with mission completion on February 9.
Of course, American television was on hand to cover the whole thing. The walk on the surface of the moon was moved ahead a couple of hours and television prepared to cover it. KYW-TV, the NBC-TV affiliate in Philadelphia had already signed off the air. At 2:55 am, they signed back on expecting live network coverage to start at approx. 3 am.
However, it didn't happen that way. Local booth announcer, Harry "Bud" Smith had signed the station back on the air and was expecting to go to the network within minutes. However, NBC-TV delayed the start of the broadcast. We have a rare treat of a professional, veteran announcer ad libbing and stalling for the network. The silence on the excerpt is really "dead air." You can envision Bud running down the hall to the wire machine and running back with AP copy to fill. This is what it sounded like at 3 am, Saturday, February 6, 1971.
Roy Neal, a native of Philadelphia and veteran NBC-TV news correspondent e-mailed:
...I was very much involved in this. (John) Dancy and I were the correspondents in Houston that morning and he had the duty. There were many of these incidents. This was a rare one.
BTW, Alan Shepard was a close friend. NASA has a final video taped interview in its oral histories file that I did with him 3 months before he died.
I also have several signed photographs from him, one of which reads "To the Neals with my warmest personal regards and appreciation for the friendship and confidence...Alan Shepard, Rear Admiral, US Navy."
Listen to Bud Smith
From the official archives of the Broadcast Pioneers of Philadelphia
Photo courtesy of The National Aeronautics and Space Administration. Photos Rights Reserved by NASA
Audio originally donated by Broadcast Pioneers member Gerry Wilkinson
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