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[b]Apollo 11 Diary[/b]
By David Chudwin, M.D.
July 15, 1969: We went on a short tour to Launch Control Center where we went on the floor of firing rooms 2 and 3 (Fig. 7). [At the time, these electronics were considered high-tech, although they seem almost primitive compared to current technology.] Also watched from above the Apollo 11 launch controllers, viewing from the glassed-in VIP booth (Fig. 8).
Went to VAB but stayed at ground level. Saw a fantastic close-up view of Apollo 13 S1C (first) stage in preparation (Fig. 9).Returned to press site for pre-launch briefing.
"Very smooth count," said launch director Rocco Petrone.. We interviewed (Deke) Slayton and (Dr. Charles) Berry on tape and rushed back to NASA News Center for private interview with Dr. George Mueller (NASA's head of manned spaceflight). He wasn't there, so we had to go to the Holiday Inn where we met him in his hotel room. We talked to him for about 20 minutes on the future of space [transcript forthcoming].
We took the press bus to watch the rollback of the gray service structure from the Saturn V. Finally able to see the huge rocket uncovered and the round fuel tanks that supply it (Fig. 10).
After that, had dinner at Holiday Inn. Went back to News Center at about 6 and wrote a story on typewriters there. Phoned it in to the Daily. [This was before e-mail and the internet and even before faxes.]
July 16: We took the bus to see the astronauts come out of their crew quarters at the MSOB [Manned Spaceflight Operations Building]. We got there about 5:30 a.m. and literally ran to the second or third row behind barrier ropes. We stood crushed, until 6:10 a.m. when Deke Slayton came out for an interview.
Astros came out in their white space suits and bubble helmets at 6:25 a.m. to cheers and thousands of flashbulbs. I took 5 shots--I hope they come out. [There was feverish jostling for position, and elbows and heads were being thrown everywhere among the throng.]
Armstrong gave a boyish grin as he walked down the ramp to the van (Fig. 11). Collins had a serene smile on his face. Aldrin was also grinning (Fig. 12). As Armstrong approached the door of the van he gave a thumbs-up sign. The whole fantastic scene lasted perhaps 30 or 40 seconds.
These three men are on the way, hopefully, to be the first on the Moon and we are excited and privileged to be there for their departure. [To be continued.]
Fig. 7. The floor of a Launch Control Center firing room at the Kennedy Space Center on July 15, 1969 (all photos by David Chudwin). Note the "advanced" electronics.
Fig. 8. Apollo 11 launch controllers at their consoles in the Launch Control Center at KSC on July 15, 1969. Photo taken from glassed-in VIP booth above the firing room.
Fig. 9. The base of the first stage (S1C) of the Apollo 13 Saturn V rocket in preparation in the Vehicle Assembly Building at KSC in July, 1969. The scale of the huge first stage is apparent from the technicians at the center of the picture who are standing between two of the large engines.
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