A contemporary witness remembers
The Apollo 11 mission, the first manned moon landing, has been widely reported since 1969. However, the subsequent six further moon flights of the Apollo program are much less present. How was it back then?
During the four-year lunar missions of the US Apollo program, our knowledge of the Earth's satellite changed significantly and many new experiences were gained with regard to manned excursions to another celestial body. While the first circumnavigation of the moon in December 1968 and the first moon landing in July 1969 have not been forgotten to this day, relatively little of the six subsequent flights has stuck in people's collective memory. Therefore, as a journalist who was already active back then, I would like to take the reader back to this exciting chapter in space history.
My path to becoming a space commentator and publicist began in the mid-1960s, when I was still a student at the Technical University of Berlin and head of the satellite observation station at the Wilhelm Foerster Observatory in Berlin. In cooperation with US institutions, we were involved in the observation of near-Earth satellites, primarily Soviet launches, primarily with radio technology procedures. It had nothing to do with espionage. In early 1968 I even received official permission from the Soviet Academy of Sciences to receive and scientifically evaluate the signals from all satellites and space probes in the USSR. I'm probably the only one in Germany who has such a document in his files. My stays in the USA in 1966 and 1968, including as a NASA scholarship holder at the "School of Environmental and Planetary Sciences" at the University of Miami, also contributed to my being the primary contact for the media in Berlin when it comes to space travel was. Occasionally the US RIAS had approached me. The RIAS, the "broadcasting in the American sector", was for decades an extremely popular radio station with two full programs in the western part of Berlin, and above all in the former GDR, which was also supplied with high transmission power. In addition to politics, the focus was on culture, youth, technology and research. With reunification in 1989, RIAS merged with Deutschlandsender Kultur, which later became DeutschlandRadio Kultur. Until then, sovereignty over the station lay with the Americans …