At just 29-years-old, Doug Ward had an unprecedented job on his hands. He was a NASA public affairs officer in charge of interpreting the Apollo 11 moon mission to a press corps of over 3,000 reporters. His team of 8 helped the media, and in turn the nation, understand what exactly was going on up there.
A Giant Leap For TV: How NASA Brought The Moon Landing To A Public That Had To See It To Believe It
By: Ariel Shapiro
As mission control guided the crew of Apollo 11 to the moon’s surface, Doug Ward had another job to do. The 29-year-old NASA public affairs officer was a “voice of Apollo,” tasked with interpreting the mission for a press corps of 3,000 who would spread news of NASA’s triumph across the globe.
The moment when Neil Armstrong first stepped on the moon was watched by an estimated 650 million people, but it almost wasn’t so. There had initially been disagreement as to whether television cameras should be sent into space at all. Christopher Kraft, the director of flight operations at the time, was the one who made it happen, recognizing how valuable it would be for the public. “The scientists get the scientific data, but the public gets the imagery,” says Ward, 79.
Ward sat down with Forbes to tell the story of how NASA used television to broadcast its giant leap for mankind.