1968 in Space

Published: 1968
Play Audio Archive Story - UPI

Announcer: The wonders and mysteries of space have mystified man even before Galileo first peered at the stars with a crude telescope. Jules Verne's fictitious voyage to the moon tempted the imagination of men for 100 years. In 1968, that voyage became more of a reality. Americans and Russians proceeded quickly during 1968 to complete the last lap of the 10-year-old race to the moon. For America, it was the Apollo Program that provided the drama this year.

Unknown Speaker 1: "Five, four, three, two, one--"

Unknown Speaker 2: "There's ignition!"

Unknown Speaker 1: "--we have ignition."

Unknown Speaker 2: "Look at the flames pour out"

Unknown Speaker 1: "--we have liftoff."

Unknown Speaker 2: "From the bottom of those eight engines, a huge orange cloud as usual burning up and you can hear the-- "

Unknown Speaker 1: "This is Launch Control; we have cleared the tower."

Unknown Speaker 2: "--newsmen applauding in the background as the Saturn 1B lifts off 534.

Unknown Speaker 3: "The Rules Program has connection."

Unknown Speaker 2: "A brilliant flame shooting down as it climbs ever so slowly up into the sky. Listen to the roar."

Announcer: The mission of Apollo 7 was 11 days long. Commander of the capsule, Astronaut Wally Schirra, told what the major goal of the flight was.

Commander Wally Schirra: "The flight is a low earth-orbital mission concentrating on the life-support systems, the propulsion systems and the control systems. Now, in order to do this, we will fly what we call an open-ended flight. What this means is, we will allow the flight to continue as long as safety and the consumables on board allow. The limiting one is the oxygen available to the flight crew."

Announcer: While in space, Astronaut Schirra, Cunningham and Eisele broadcast in classic show-business tradition the first live television show by Americans from space.

Unknown Speaker: "You're picking up -- I can read it now; just a minute. It says 'From that lovely Apollo something; you guys should write ï?½ hi atop something'. It looks good. I can see Wally handling bell, Don has a smile on his face in there, as well. Okay, whatï?½s the next one? A little closer, Wally. It says, 'Keep those cards coming ... keep those cards and letters coming in'; folks, it's loud and clear."

Announcer: It was Apollo 7 that made way for Apollo 8, the flight around the moon.

Major space accomplishments by Russia in 1968 made them ready to land a man on the moon. So it's clear that 1969 may be the year that someone finally does achieve this goal. The only question remaining is, who will it be: Russia or the United States?

It's hard to believe that the first heart transplant took place at the end of 1967, because since that time there have been over 90 transplants made, and almost half of that number are surviving.

A nuclear submarine can stay submerged for many days, and they often do. So when the nuclear sub Scorpion had not been heard from for two or three days, the Navy was not overly concerned; however, a search was begun, and finally they admitted the search had been in vain ï?½

Unknown Speaker: "One of the most extensive air and surface searches ever conducted has been made along Scorpion's route. In addition, a wide area on either side of her track has been under continuous search from the air. As a result of this exhaustive coverage, we have determined that Scorpion is not on the surface in a disabled condition."

Announcer: Perhaps the most tragic story of the year was the one of thousands of starving children in Biafra, the section of Nigeria that has been cut off from the world as a result of a civil war in that country.

Money was in the news in 1968, from a gold crisis in March to international monetary problems in November. In March, gold speculators forced the price of gold up to new highs; but U.S. persistence to a price hold of $35 an ounce eased the tension, and a crisis was averted. But in November, a new money storm hit the shores of the major noncommunist western nations. Hardest hit was France. President Charles De Gaulle solution called for budgetary cuts and a general program of austerity for his nation.

And from a small mining town in West Virginia came the inevitable story that a mine explosion had trapped 78 men in the bowels of the earth. The search for the men was abandoned when rescuers feared further explosions underground would endanger the rescuers.

Announcer: And so the year has ended. How do you measure it? How do you measure tragedy, assassinations, riots and revolt, people at war, black babies with strangely swollen bellies from lack of food? How do you measure the good things: a hope for peace, success in space, new hearts for new life, social justice for the oppressed? How do you measure?

United Press International has presented 1968 in Review. This program was produced by Stan Sabik, Technical Director was Bill Wilson, and this is Ed Karrens.