Friday, August 29, 2014

Epilogue: Our future in space (post 70)

EPILOGUE: In 1969 President Nixon appointed a Space Task Group, headed by Vice President Agnew, which concluded that the U.S. could land on Mars by as early as 1981 with sufficient political and financial support. Now in 2014, 45 years after I covered the Apollo 11 launch, NASA is still talking 20 years away for a Mars mission; a return to the Moon is not being seriously considered. What are the ingredients for a recipe for an aggressive U.S. space program?  Briefly: 1) An external threat, whether an errant asteroid or an aggressive China. 2) Strong presidential leadership in favor of space, similar to that of Presidents Kennedy and Johnson. 3) A supportive Congress with bipartisan  backing of NASA. 4) Multi-year funding for complicated missions which are hamstrung by the vagaries of yearly appropriations. 5) Congress leaving technical decisions to NASA instead of trying to micromanage like the Alabama and Florida delegations. 6) A NASA leadership which is not afraid to take risks by making bold decisions, such as LOR and flying Apollo 8 around the Moon.7) NASA program managers who are held truly accountable for budgets and performance,  and who hold contractors to the same level of accountability. 8) A change in NASA culture where there is good communications at all levels-- where individuals feel empowered to speak out about engineering, budget, or other problems. 9) A reduction in unnecessary program requirements and paperwork so as not to stifle initiative and slow progress to a crawl. 10) And most importantly, clearly announced goals for the space program with fixed targets--and not “we may got to Mars by the mid-2030’s.” It has been a joy for me to follow the space program since the 1950’s and the high point for me so far  was covering Apollo 11. Mankind’s future is in space and I hope to be around a while longer to be an eyewitness.
#Apollo11Eyewitness  Post #70 (END)

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Spaceflight 2013 cover story (post 69)

Positive comments about my 2009 on-line collectSpace posts and Astrophile article concerning my Apollo 11 experiences convinced me that there was interest in the story of  how I covered the Apollo 11 launch as a 19 year-old college journalist. My color slide photos received a special warm reception because they were so different from the classic NASA images for Apollo 11, especially  how they had maintained their color and clarity over more than 4 decades. It took a while, but I finished a longer article based on my previous writings. Titled “Apollo 11: Eyewitness to History,” it appeared in the January, 2013 issue of Spaceflight (pgs. 26-29, vol. 55, no. 1), with one of my Saturn V photos as the cover picture. For the 45th Anniversary of Apollo 11 this year,  I decided to post some of the pictures on Facebook. This modest undertaking evolved into the 69 posts (only one more to go!) on Space Hipsters and a new blog which you have been reading. A number of you have suggested a book so I plan to explore my options over then next couple years. The Fiftieth Anniversary of Apollo 11 in 2019 would be an appropriate year for publication—stay tuned!

#Apollo11Eyewitness  Post #69

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Remembering and writing about Apollo 11 (post 68)

The years went by, yet my excitement about my 1969 experiences at the Apollo 11 walkout, launch and parade did not diminish. Indeed, my enthusiasm for space exploration increased as the decades passed. It took me a while for me to realize that both my story and photographs were somewhat unique—my friend and I were the only college reporters accredited by NASA to cover the First Landing on the Moon, and we were among the youngest of the 3,500 journalists privileged to cover that epic event. th Anniversary approached in 2009, I decided it was time to write about my adventures. For the collectSpace website, founded and edited by the wonderful Robert Pearlman, I prepared a series of on-line posts presenting an edited version of my 1969 diary ( For the astrophilatelic Space Unit’s journal the Astrophile, I summarized my journey and dovetailed  it with  the story of space artist Paul Calle, who was featured in the issue (pgs. 158-63, vol. 54, no. 2, May-August 2009) . Paul was inside the MSOB sketching the crew as they suited up while I was just outside the same building waiting for them to walkout on July 16, 1969. These two articles had a limited audience, however, and I later decided to expand my horizons.

As the 40

#Apollo11Eyewitness  Post #68


Saturday, August 23, 2014

Neil Armstrong 40 years later (post 67)

The next time I again saw Neil Armstrong in person was 40 years later in 2009. By then Armstrong had achieved almost mythic status and was only making a limited number of public appearances. I was at the Apollo 12 40th Anniversary dinner, sponsored by the worthy Astronaut Scholarship Foundation (ASF), when he arrived surrounded by security men wearing ear plugs. I began to understand the reason when he was literally mobbed by well-wishers seeking a photo with him or to say hello (it was well-known he had stopped giving autographs). My hopes for a personal picture with Armstrong were dashed, but I was able to get some close-up shots of him. However, when ASF put on-line the photos from the event, I was thrilled to find a photograph showing Neil at his table (with Gene Cernan and Charlie Bolden) with me lurking in the background at upper right behind Alan Bean! So while I never had a formal picture taken with Neil, there is at least this one photo with both of us in the same frame. (I also saw him from a distance at the Apollo 13 40th Anniversary dinner at the Adler Planetarium in 2010). No one could have been a better choice for First Man than Neil Armstrong. He was a brilliant pilot, an intellectual fascinated by the intricacies of subjects ranging from aeronautical engineering to chronometers, a quiet man who conducted himself with dignity but who was also comfortable with who he was. While some criticized him for not being more of a cheerleader for space, Armstrong did serve as vice-chairman of the commission investigating the Challenger disaster and made appearances before Congress on the future of space. Neil Armstrong’s name will be remembered for thousands of years; I feel privileged to have seen him in person as he walked out in his spacesuit to fly to the Moon.

#Apollo11Eyewitness  Post #67

Friday, August 22, 2014

Meeting Mike Collins 40 years later (post 66)

Michael Collins has led an active life after Apollo 11 but has avoided most public events in recent years (except meeting the President every 5 years on the anniversary of Apollo 11). One of his greatest achievements was overseeing the construction and opening of the popular National Air & Space Museum on time and on budget as its Founding Director. He is also an accomplished writer whose “Carrying the Fire” is widely acclaimed one of the best astronaut biographies. In later years he has taken up water color art. As a favor to fellow artist Kim Poor, Collins and his late wife Pat did appear at Spacefest 2 in San Diego in 2009. I had a chance to meet him there. I introduced myself and, to my astonishment, he said, “I know who you are.” It turns out that he was an anonymous member of the Space Unit astrophilatelic group in the 1980’s when I was editor of its newsletter, the Astrophile. I saw him again at the reception and dinner. Collins in many ways is a renaissance man—test pilot, astronaut, writer, museum director, and artist. If I could have lunch with any astronaut, past or present, Mike Collins would be my first choice.


#Apollo11Eyewitness  Post #66


Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Meeting Buzz Aldrin years later (post 65)

I saw the  entire Apollo 11 crew twice in person in 1969, first during their walkout on the way to the Moon, and then again during their triumphant parade in Chicago the next month. It would be 40 years, however, until I saw all three again. I have had the pleasure of meeting Buzz Aldrin at a number of space events from 2005 through this May at Spacefest 6. Of the Apollo 11 crew, Aldrin is the most gregarious and publicly active. While he can be abrupt, rude and and even greedy at times (the “bad Buzz”), he is more often genial, approachable, and friendly (the “good Buzz”). He has been a tireless advocate for the future of space exploration, championing advanced technology to get us to Mars and beyond. While critics have denounced some of his activities as tasteless (“Dancing with the Stars”), no one can deny Buzz’s energy, intelligence, and his passion for the future. At age 84 he has barely slowed down. 

#Apollo11Eyewitness  Post #65


Monday, August 18, 2014

NASA managers leading Project Apollo (post 64)

Besides the astronauts and Flight Controllers, another key group of  people responsible for the success of Apollo 11 were the NASA leaders and managers who directed this complex effort.  In the year following Apollo 11, I wrote many of NASA’s  top brass to congratulate them on their achievement and to seek their autographs on identical First Man on the Moon stamp First Day Covers. Among others, at NASA Headquarters I wrote to NASA Administrator Tom Paine, Apollo Program Director Gen. Sam Phillips and Apollo 11 Mission Director George Hage.  I wrote to Director Robert Gilruth, Deputy Director Chris Kraft and Apollo Spacecraft Program Manager George Low at the Manned Spacecraft Center. At the Kennedy Space Center I wrote to Director Kurt Debus and Director of Launch Operations Rocco Petrone. (Notable absences from this group of signed covers are George Mueller, Associate Administrator for Manned Spaceflight, and Wernher von Braun, MSFC Director.) Each of these brilliant men played key, but different, roles in organizing the Apollo program to successfully land and return from the Moon.

#Apollo11Eyewitness  Post #64


Thursday, August 14, 2014

Men of Mission Control (post 63)

While most of the public attention focused on the Apollo 11 crew, they stood at the top of a pyramid of over 400,000 people who worked on Project Apollo. Armstrong and Aldrin would not have landed and returned from the Moon without the men of Mission Control in Houston. There were four Flight Directors there who were directly responsible for different phases of the Apollo 11 mission. Working along each of  them were four astronauts serving as CAPCOMS. The team for the launch and EVA was Cliff Charlesworth (“Green Flight”) and Bruce McCandless. The team for the lunar landing was Gene Kranz (“White Flight”) and Charlie Duke. The team for the lunar ascent was Glynn Lunney (“Black Flight”) and Ron Evans. The final team for night periods was Gerry Griffin (“Gold Flight”) and Owen Garriott. Over a 40 year period I wrote to or met each of the Flight Directors and asked them to sign an Apollo 11 First Day Cover (Cliff Charlesworth died in 1991 and his signature is rarely seen).  I purchased the second cover

signed by some of the CAPCOMS and added to it;  it is imperfect because Al Worden was not an official CAPCOM  and the autograph of Bruce MCandless appears both as an autopen and genuine signature. Besides the Flight Directors and CAPCOMS,  hundreds of other NASA and contractor personnel worked at the Manned Spacecraft Center to make Apollo 11 a succss.

#Apollo11Eyewitness  Post #63

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Neil Armstrong autographs part 4 (post 62)

The story of the most amazing, and last, autograph I obtained from Neil Armstrong begins in 1993. Back in 1969 at the Apollo 11 News Center at the Cape, I snagged two copies of an Apollo 11 lunar orbit map. One of them I had signed for a fee by Buzz Aldrin (see post 58). In 1993 I realized I had nothing to lose by writing Armstrong again; I had not done so in many years. . By this time he had retired to a farm near Lebanon Ohio, a small town near Cincinnati,  and was only sporadically responding to requests. I sent out the lunar orbit map and a few weeks later I received the intact envelope back marked “REFUSED” on the front. Not willing to give up, I remembered that the Astronaut Office could forward mail to former astronauts (this is no longer true). So I sent out another envelope addressed to Neil care of Code CB,  Johnson Space Center. Many weeks went by and I thought it was lost. On July 20, 1994, the 25th Anniversary of the Moonlanding, I go out to my mailbox and see a large envelope with a July 18, 1994 Cincinnati postmark, My hands were shaking as I opened it. Inside was my lunar orbit map inscribed “Best Wishes to Dr. Dave Chudwin – Neil Armstrong” in ballpoint at the bottom of the map. I later learned that he decided to stop signing as of July 20, so my map was one of the last items autographed by him. Of all the space memorabilia I own, this is the most precious to me, not only because I have never seen such a map autographed by Armstrong, but also the eerie circumstance of it arriving on the 25th Anniversary of the landing. This is a keepsake that will always remain in our family.

#Apollo11Eyewitness  Post #62

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Neil Armstrong autographs part 3 (post 61)

The most sentimental of my Neil Armstrong autographs is this scarce NASA lithograph he personally inscribed to my son Adam in 1987.  That year, when Adam was 2, I sent pictures to all 12 of the Moonwalkers and asked them to sign for him; I also included a snapshot of Adam so they could see to whom they were writing..  I was successful with everyone but John Young and Dave Scott (who were added later).  Armstrong wrote “To Adam—All  Good Wishes” in dark ink on the NASA litho showing a picture Neil took of Buzz Aldrin exiting the LM. While Armstrong signed thousands of autographs, very few of then were of scenes on the Moon, as opposed to his individual spacesuit portrait or crew portraits. This complete set of Moonwalker photos belongs to my son, now in his late 20’s, although they are safely stored until he decides what to do with this inheritance.

#Apollo11Eyewitness  Post #61

Sunday, August 10, 2014

Buzz Aldrin Autographs (post 58)

After Apollo 11, I sent launch and recovery envelopes to Buzz Aldrin but, as expected, I received back autopen signatures (the crew was inundated with thousands of autograph requests).  Twenty years later,  in 1989, Buzz was kind enough to inscribe for free an Apollo 11 crew litho to my young son Adam. However, he soon started charging increasing autograph fees for signatures.  I decided to have him sign a few key items in 2000 since by then Armstrong had stopped giving autographs, as did Mike Collins for a while. So I sent my Apollo 11 flight plan and press kit, as well as a lunar orbit map, paying $100 each. I thought that was expensive at the time, but at the most recent Spacefest Aldrin’s base fee was $600 per signature—and there was still a line to get his autograph!

#Apollo11Eyewitness  Post #58 


Neil Armstrong autographs part 2 (Post 60)

One of my most prized Neil Armstrong autographs is a rare Apollo 11 “insurance cover” signed by the crew when the three were in quarantine before the launch. These covers, with a Manned Spacecraft Center Stamp Club or Dow Unicover cachet, were produced to help the astronaut’s families in case the astronauts did not come back. They could not get standard commercial life insurance because of the risks of their jobs, and though they did have some insurance through their Life Magazine contracts, sales of the “insurance covers” were designed to supplement those funds in case of tragedy. I was able to buy this insurance cover for $350 in the 1980’s from noted space collector and space cover dealer Ken Havekotte. The price was reduced due to the poor quality of the Houston postmark on this one. These rare covers go for as much as $5,000 now. (Thanks, Ken!). With all the forgeries of Apollo 11 crew signatures, these “insurance covers” have the best possible provenance as to their authenticity.

#Apollo11Eyewitness  Post #60 


Saturday, August 9, 2014

Neil Armstrong autographs. part 1 (post 59)

The situation with Neil Armstrong’s autograph is more complex. While a genuine autograph of the First Man may now cost $1,000 or more, until 1994 Neil Armstrong was among the most generous of signers among the astronauts. It is estimated that he may have signed over 100,000 autographs up until the 25th Anniversary of the Moonlanding, in 1994 when he stopped giving any autographs (with very rare exceptions). My first Armstrong signature was after Gemini 8 in 1966 when I sent to him a NASA photo of the Agena liftoff which he inscribed to me (Dave Scott was added years later). I knew that after Apollo 11 Armstrong would be swamped with autograph requests so I was not surprised that my first request for signed launch and recovery covers would come back with autopen signatures. I waited a few months and sent him one of the envelopes I had postmarked at the Cape Canaveral Post Office for the July 20 landing. I was thrilled to get the cover back with his autograph in blue ballpen ink. A few years later he signed an Apollo 11 First Day Cover (which is now part of a display).

#Apollo11Eyewitness  Post #59 

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Autographed Apollo 11 souvenirs (post 57)

After returning home from the Cape, I went through a stack of papers containing a flight plan, press kit, public relations plan, lunar orbit maps, hundreds of pages of transcripts, industrial folders and press releases. I also brought back some envelopes I had postmarked at the Cape Canaveral Post Office on the July 20 landing date. I had collected space memorabilia, including launch and recovery ship covers, since 1965 so I decided that, over time, I would try to get some of these items autographed by the crew. A few months after Apollo 11 came back, I wrote Mike Collins, sending him some of the “walkout” and parade pictures I had taken. I requested an autograph on a KSC launch cover with an official NASA cachet and on a recovery cover from the USS Hornet. It took a while, but not only did Collins sign the two envelopes, but he also sent a crew lithograph he inscribed to me (the Armstrong and Aldrin autographs are autopen (mechanical) signatures). This is one of my most cherished Apollo 11 souvenirs.

#Apollo11Eyewitness  Post #57  November, 1969 Events

Monday, August 4, 2014

"New Worlds for Tomorrow" November, 1969 (post 56)

My Apollo 11 article appeared with the title “New Worlds for Tomorrow” in the November, 1969 issue of the American Red Cross Youth Journal (vol. 46, pg.  22-25). The first two pages had the title over an “Earthrise” image, and there were 5 other photo illustrations, including my “walkout” picture of the Apollo 11 crew and NASA images of Dr. George Mueller, the launch and the “Moonwalk.” An Editor’s note: “David S. Chudwin officially covered the flight of Apollo 11 for several college publications and for the JOURNAL. He is l9 years old, a sophomore at the University of Michigan, and one of the editors of the Michigan Daily, the student newspaper. Writing is one of his hobbies. He has been interested in the space program for over 10 years. His recollection of the flight of Apollo 11, and an interview he conducted with an official of the space program, seem appropriate in these last days before the flight of Apollo 12.”

#Apollo11Eyewitness  Post #56  November, 1969 Events