Encyclopedia Astronautica
1966.11.09 - Feasibility and cost tradeoffs of real-time television coverage of Apollo missions


NASA Associate Administrator for Manned Space Flight George E. Mueller reported on technical feasibility and cost tradeoffs of real-time television coverage of Apollo missions.

Deputy Administrator Robert C. Seamans, Jr., had requested an evaluation during a July 8 program review. Highlights of the report were:

- Lunar missions would be the most complex attempted in manned space flight. Even with optimum training, astronaut capabilities would be heavily taxed and availability of real-time TV coverage could provide an opportunity in trouble-shooting spacecraft anomalies or in performing scientific experiments.
- To transmit TV video to Mission Control Center in Houston, scan conversion from the Apollo format to the standard commercial format would be required as well as a communications capability. For the lunar mission, implementation at Goldstone and Madrid would provide 62- to 91-percent TV coverage with an estimated initial investment of $500,000 and an operating cost of $1,200,000 per year, based on four seven-day missions per year with 8 to 14 hours a day possible coverage for each station.
- The most optimistic minimum procurement and installation time for the first unit would be 10 months and, to provide real-time TV for the first lunar mission, the system should be exercised at least one mission before AS-504. Mueller recommended approval for additional equipment and communication services necessary for live TV coverage from the Goldstone, Calif., and Madrid, Spain, stations.

Seamans approved the proposal on November 17, with the following condition, which was later transmitted to MSC Director Robert R. Gilruth: "Before NASA commitments of any sort are made to the networks for Apollo capsule TV coverage, the plans and procedures must be approved by the Administrator."

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