Live From the Moon!
The picture may have been grainy, but it was some of the most riveting TV of the 1960s.
- By Mary McKillop
- AirSpaceMag.com, July 19, 2010
The first live television transmission from space was broadcast from Apollo 7 in October 1968. Mission commander Wally Schirra had been wary of flying a TV camera on this first mission after the Apollo 1 fire. “It was an electrical circuit, and I had not forgotten that an electrical short had resulted in the loss of the Apollo 1 crew,” he recalled later. Despite his initial reluctance, Schirra finally agreed to fly the hand-held RCA slow-scan black-and-white camera. The Apollo 7 TV transmissions became an instant hit, and even earned the crew (Schirra, Walt Cunningham, and Donn Eisele) an Emmy in 1969.
During the transmissions, nicknamed the "Wally, Walt, and Donn Show," the astronauts gave a tour of their spacecraft, demonstrated the effects of microgravity, and even played a few jokes. Schirra wrote “Deke Slayton, are you a turtle?” on a cue card, knowing that his boss, watching in Houston, wouldn't be able to give the required fighter pilot response--“You bet your sweet a** I am!”--on live television.
Pictured here is the final cue card of the Apollo 7 crew's live TV broadcast.