ASU celebrates Apollo with program anniversary

Five guest speakers came for a two-day program to discuss the moon landing ceremony in December

By Sophia Gravatt
On November 16, 2018

Photo by Axel Marcenaro: James O’Brien speaks on personal experiences during the filming of the Apollo launch. O’Brien was working as an associate producer with CBS during the Apollo moon landing.

Guest speakers discussed their experiences on Wednesday, Nov. 7 for the 50th Apollo Moon Landing Anniversary Program in the C.J. Davidson Conference Center.

The panel consisted of five former Apollo-era NASA and CBS news officials, as well as scholars who have worked with Apollo astronauts.

"I’ve been very fortunate to meet each of the 12 people who have walked on the moon," said Francis French, director of the San Diego Air and Space Museum. "I tried to capture what it was they did in their own words."

French said if something isn’t recorded or documented, it’s almost as if it never happened.

"It’s one thing to actually do it, but it’s another thing to actually get it so that people understand what it truly means from that person’s point of view," French said.

Bill Harwood, CBS News space analyst, said he covered the launch for his school’s newspaper. He said he will never forget seeing the shuttle take off.

"I’ve covered 130 shuttle missions since then, but nothing equals the first one," Harwood said. "Three miles from the pad, and when the sound finally gets to you, along with the shock wave of the ground, your clothes are literally vibrating on your chest. The sound is so great, you cannot hear yourself scream. TV does not capture this."

Freshman Sydney Allison asked Joel Banow, CBS News director of the Apollo moon landing broadcasts, how he responds to people who believe the moon landing was faked.

"My reply is very easy," Banow said. "I had a man say to me, ‘Did they really land on the moon? Maybe they didn’t.’ So I said to him, ‘I can guarantee you they landed on the moon because I covered that on television and what you saw was the real thing.’"

Allison also asked why we haven’t been back to the moon.

"Congress doesn’t want to spend the money," said James O’Brien, CBS News associate producer. "It’s as simple as that."

Dr. James Hansen, author of "First Man," said that it is an interesting question to study, as many wonder why we haven’t gone back.

"It’s so extraordinary that we even went at all," Hansen said. "It would be just as extraordinary to do it again."

Naomi Sam, senior, said she came to the panel for her human communications class.

"I think it was really awesome to hear their opinions and actually see the people who got to broadcast it and who were a part of it," Sam said. "It was just really interesting."

In addition to the panel, the speakers held their own lectures.

Dr. James Hansen and Frances French had a book signing on Nov. 7 in the UC. They had copies of their books "First Man" and "In the Shadow of the Moon" available to buy.

Joel Banow and James O’Brien hosted a lecture on Nov. 7 in the ASU Planetarium.

Dr. James Hansen also hosted a viewing of the Universal Pictures movie "First Man" on Nov. 8 at Icon Cinema. A Q&A session followed the film.

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