Tuesday, January 2, 2018

NASA Space Reports Video Compilation

by G. Jack Urso

Born in 1964, like a lot of Baby Boomers, I grew up with astronauts as my heroes. Hurtling through space at thousands of miles an hour in little more than a fancy tin can to the Moon, and possible death, was awe-inspiring and terrifying at the same time, yet we did it for no other reason than it was there. I remember Neil Armstrong’s first moonwalk in 1969 and the impact of the landing is often lost on those who weren’t around at the time. Anyone even remotely associated with the program felt pride at lending a helping hand. A close friend's father, who was a janitor at company that made the cameras for the Apollo 11 lunar lander, proudly displayed a plaque which recognized his hard work in support of the engineers. Few events in human history have such broad scope that even janitors can take due pride in having participated in some way in its success — if even in a very small part.

While the landing may seem inevitable in retrospect now, it was not seen as a foregone conclusion as soon as JFK issued the challenge in his famous 1961 speech to a joint session of Congress. I can recall in the mid-1970s how a nun at my Catholic middle school admitted with regret how in the early 1960s she once gave detention to a young boy who kept insisting that we would land on the Moon before the end of decade. The nun thought at the time that a responsible educator shouldn’t encourage such fantasies.

Following up on this interest, Aeolus 13 Umbra has posted a number of video clips from NASA’s glory days in the 1960s and early 1970s. To concentrate all this video into one platform, Aeolus 13 Umbra has launched a supporting YouTube channel, Ae13U2, which focuses just on public domain NASA space program reports and related media, which I have provided links for below. The video below is uploaded to either Ae13U2 or the Aeolus 13 Umbra prime YouTube channel.

Particularly regarding the 1960s/1970s-era NASA reports, the production values are outstanding. The multi-frame video montages are typical of the era. The soundtrack features the expected booming intro and outro themes, but the Special Reports sometimes include an unusually eclectic score.  Of course, the deep, sonorous narration lends an appropriate gravitas and polished professional sound to the proceedings. The resulting effect is that these are more like little films than the quick, bland video segments produced today. Of particular interest to NASA wonks are the Aeronautics and Space Reports, brief monthly reports on the progress of the space program. Entries for the years 1967 and 1968 are included below.

News Coverage:

Apollo 11: As it Happened: This massive 6-hour video contains ABC News footage compressed from the 8-day long Apollo 11 mission. No modern-day narration or video clips of current space programs — it is completely contemporaneous coverage. For anyone interested in the space program, news, or even period-specific fashion and décor, this documentary covers a lot of ground. In addition to uploading the full program, I have also posted clips of some of the more interesting short segments:

Special Reports:

NASA Aeronautics and Space Reports
January 1967: Communications satellite advances.
January 1968: Pioneer 8; Underwater recovery.
February 1967: Precision moon landings; blind landing tests.
February 1968: Apollo 5; Materials research; Medical monitoring.
March 1967: Communications satellite uses.
March 1968: Flight research with models.
April 1967: Lunar orbital photos and precision casting of test flight models.
April 1968: Moon Surveyors; X-15 research.
May 1967: Mariner probe Venus mission; 6 years of manned flight review.
May 1968: Apollo tests; Space research.
June 1967: Surveyor III; astronaut training.
June 1968: Planetary landing studies; Underwater space simulations
July 1967: Lunar rocket belt; jet noise reduction.
July 1968: Lunar landing research facility; Skid research.
August 1967: Orbital workshop; early plans for Skylab.
August 1968: Astronaut parachute training; Orbiting Astronomical Observatory (OAO).
September 1967: Lunar Orbital V; Preparation for Saturn V launch.
September 1968: Apollo 7 report.
October 1967: 50th Anniversary Langley Research Center.
October 1968: Flight simulators; Antarctic tests for space.
October 1967: Apollo 4 report.
November 1968: Apollo 8 plans.
November 1967: Mariner probe Venus mission.
December 1968: Yearend highlights.
December 1967: Surveyor probe and Lunar orbitor missions; bio and geo satellites.
Space Program Highlights 1965: Mid-decade update on the progress of the space program, including planning for the moon landing.