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tv   Second Look  FOX  April 29, 2012 11:00pm-11:30pm PDT

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up next on a second look, remembering nasa's man spaced program. from the first american to orbit the earth to the first person to set foot on the moon. hear from the astronauts who made history and the people behind the scenes who made that history possible. it's all straight ahead tonight on a second look?
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hello everyone i'm frank  somerville. as people watched from among the monuments, the shuttle made a final fly by of the nation's capital and then landed at the dellas space airport. it was the symbolic imagine of the end of the decades of government operated man flight beyond the atmosphere of the earth. the space program hit full stride back in the early 60s with a dream and a promise to put a human being on the moon with a human in orbit. nine months later, john glen would become the first american to orbit the earth. john fowler looked back at that
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landmark journey into space. >> reporter: joan hershell jr. one of the original astronauts. after weeks of problem plagued delays, glen again squeezed into the capsule atop the atlas but problems began right away. the rocket guidance unit held, a rocket fuel pump stuck and power held at a tracking station. three hours and 45 minutes after glen boarded, things were finally working well enough to call a go. >> we're under way. >> reporter: america cheered, the world watched and held it breath. >> aboard friendship seven it
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was a much more violent launch than expected. glen remainedded calm and probably very happy that the capsule did not explode. glen took over manually but his tiny shuttle. they said he would have to override automatic controls and become the first ever space pilot. >> i will have to make a manual entry when it occurs and bring the scope in manually, is that affirmed? >> that is affirmative. >> during the fiery reentry, parts flew past his window. glen knew there was nothing he
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could do to save himself from burning up. >> a real fire ball outside. >> reporter: but everything held and his parachute luckily opened early to stabilize his decent. glen splashed down 40 miles short of the target area but close enough. inside the capsule it was steamy hot and glen lost 5 pounds in sweat. but john glen had circled the earth three times. his ticker tape parade was bigger than charles lindburg. >> reporter: congress gave him a heros platform. >> we're all proud to have been privileged to be part of this effort. to represent our country as you have. >> reporter: nasa grounded john glen, extensively because of an ear problem but truly president kennedy did not want america's
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champion astronaut killed in the space range. john glen would journey into space once again but it would be nearly 37 years after historic flight. in 1977 after a second career adds a u.s. senator he became the oldest to travel to space. on the anniversary of hi first voyage into space, he looked back. >> it's amazing for me to think back 50 years and think that it's been 50 years. it still seems so vivid to me. >> reporter: traveling with glen on that 1998 shuttle flight was bay area astronaut steven robinson a graduate of campo linda high school. he called the experience of flying with john glen, surreal. somebody behind the space
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program talks about the disaster that may have helped nasa move forward. the historic treasure that put man on the moon.
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tonight on a second look we're revisiting america's space program and while the astronauts got most of the fame and glory, thousands of people work behind the scenes to make their space flights possible.  one of them was nasa's director of manned space flight, chris class. john fowler talked with craft about the space program and about the tragedy that may actually have helped propel nasa forward. >> reporter: the triumph may never have happened without the tragedy of apollo one. he says the climb to the moon
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took a crucial turn one chilly friday january 27, 1967. a turn craft says put nasa on the right track. it was called a plugs out test on cape canaveral 24a. 10 months prior to their scheduled launch. the astronauts climbed on to their structure. all three were experienced military pilots. >> i have three fuel lights. fuel cells disconnect. >> reporter: chris craft was on head sets in mission control. suddenly, there was a spark in the spacecraft. >> oh, oh. >> we have a spark in the spacecraft. >> i could hear gus saying we have a fire inside the spacecraft. and then i heard roger, i could hear screaming from pain.
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i could hear the pad people yelling and screaming. i could hear roger then say, please get us out of here. and then i heard nothing. when that fire started they were probably dead in 15, 20 seconds. >> reporter: it shocked the nation and stunned nasa. the deaths also devastated craft who was a pallbearer at grisham's funeral. >> we lost fine human beings, close friends that you work with. although i had been in the flight test business and i had seen test pilots killed, that probably helped me a little bit not a hell of a lot. nasa engineers ran simple tests and discovered that at high pressure oxygen everything burns everyone metal. >> we didn't realize how explosive that mixture was when you got a spark. as soon as that started, we started figuring out what happened all of us blamed
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ourselves. it was our fault. we should have been more careful. we should have thought about what that test was doing. we should have been more argued more to get the things fixed that were not fixed. and there were a lot of things that were wrong with that spacecraft. >> reporter: nasa fired some managers, changed others. then fixed what turned out to be 125 failure critical items. nasa waited 21 months to make the next manned launch and craft says engineers focused as never before on safety and reliability. and he says the space agency kept that focus right on to the moon. >> i'm convinced without the fire, which is a horrible thing to say, without the hiatus created by the fire we probably would have not made getting to the moon and landing in the era of the 60s. i think it would have been in the 70s before we did it and it would have been a lot more
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difficult. we may have even quit the program because a lot of those failures could have been fatal in space. >> reporter: getting to the moon created the greatest technological focus in history. many say the first moon mission remains the most remarkable achievement in space. >> today with shuttle flights almost routine, we may forget what we've gained from 44 years of space flight. medical monitoring, composite materials, digital technology all owe a great deal to those pioneers who had vision and in some cases gave their life for the dream. >> when we come back on a second look, remembering the first time man walked on the moon. a bit later, it's now a bay area museum but this ship played a key role in the apollo mission.
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we're taking a second look at america's space program. it's high point was in 1969 when a human being first set foot on the moon. >> it's one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind. >> it was the first of six flights in which men would walk on the lunar surface. the last mission was in december of 1972. it's commander, eugene serta has the advantage of the last
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man leaving the moon. last year scientists at livermore lab took a new look at a lava moon rock on board apollo16. they found it was 200 million years younger than they first thought. scientists had theorized it was 4. 4.6 billion years old from the time they thought the surface of the moon was molten. the first moon landing happened in july of 1969 and not just the nation but the entire world stopped to watch and to realize that a new age had begun. in 1994, ktvu's bob mackenzie retraced the event surrounding man's first arrival on if surface of the moon. >> neil armstrong, buzz aldrine -- but no one could guarantee they would land safely on the moon or get off the moon and
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back to earth. all over the bay area and all over the world, people were glued to television sets or radio. >> ignition sequence starts. six, five, four, three, two, one. the apollo climbed on the atmosphere, as the rockets looked back at the earth, 300 million people on earth looked at them on television. >> apollo 11 thises houston, you are confirmed to move
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forward. >> reconfirm ignition and the thrust is go. >> houston, thrust go all engines you're looking good. >> reporter: during the apollo's four days of travel to the moon, people on earth became acquainted with the astronauts through television. >> we are very comfortable up here. there's plenty of room for the three of us and i think we're all recognizing our favorite corner to sit in. >> reporter: extreme danger, nights of suspense for these three men to get back safely to earth. hundreds of procedures, systems had to go extremely right. at last apollo 11 prepared to land in a world that had no water, no light, and not much
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gravity. then as apollo 11 came close to its landing site, there was an error. armstrong switched in manual controls, he would have to bring the craft in the old fashioned way. by flying it. >> flight controllers, ready for landing. >> houston you're a go for landing. >> over. >> 3,000 feet, clear for landing. >> 60 seconds. >> python, fuller. 2-1/2. picking up some dust. forward, drifting to the right a little. >> contact flight. okay engine stop.
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>> we copy you down eagle. >> houston, the eagle has landed. >> reporter: the eagle had landed with 20 seconds of fuel left but no one was worried about that. >> step out the landing. >> reporter: and so neil armstrong, american became the first man to walk on the moon. >> it's one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind. >> ktvu went out to get the public's reaction. >> i think it's fabulous, just great. >> i thought it was great. sure. i think it's in keeping with biblical predictions and practice is something -- i
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believe. >> you liked it? >> yes. >> i think we should head on to mars, money well spent. >> reporter: it was an american flag the astronauts planted. president nixon called them on the phone. >> all the people on this earth are truly one. >> reporter: after only 2-1/2 hours on another world, armstrong and aldrine packed up 50 moon rocks and prepared to go home. could they reconnect with the spacecraft? collins orbiting overhead the columbia gave the eagle a 50/50% chance of successfully lifting off and reconnecting with the columbia. >> you're clear for take off. >> roger. >> three, two, one.
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>> reporter: but everything worked, the astronauts headed for the beautiful blue haven called earth, as we held our breath. they splashed down safely. san francisco like other cities across the country blew horns and rang bells. >> our guys came back safely. >> i think it's great that they're back on earth alive. >> just beautiful, it's really beautiful. >> reporter: the three astronauts were heros at home and everywhere. for that brief transcending moment it seemed there was nothing human beings couldn't accomplish. no challenge that american know
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how couldn't solve. human beings still haven't gone to mars, and we seem to have lost the spirit that inspired a younger world to reach the stars. today the legacy of the apollo missions is a handful of pictures and pictures of the planet we call home. i hate getting less. but i love getting more.
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as we remember the space program, it's important to remember the brave men who went into space. when the first man on the moon came back the ship that picked them up was the u.s.s. hornet which is now a floating museum here in the bay area.
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in 2009, mike mibach talked with one of those astronauts and with some of the crew men who were there when he returned. the u.s.s. hornet known as a power house, the carrier was attacked 59 times but never came down. all the time her aircraft destroyed 1,800 planes. but it was on december 59 -- >> radio contact. >> reporter: the day this carrier is remembered by so many. >> now reports a visual contact by the recovery ship. >> reporter: the hornets and its men pulled the first space shuttle out of the pacific. roger beam a seaman was on the hornet that july day. on this day he and his wife were back on the carrier for the first time to celebrate the 40th anniversary of splash down. on board with them, astronaut
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buzz aldrine. >> we're down, parachutes come out. we still have cabin pressure and it's lowered on the outside. now we descend, all of a sudden the pressure is greater on the outside. that's saltwater, we're home. >> buzz aldrine was back to sign his book for those who had it. >> it's very, very exciting. >> reporter: and of course -- >> tranquility base here. the eagle has landed. >> reporter: to tell stories of his historic moon landing and walk. >> we flew over an undesirable area that takes more time and more fuel. so instead of having 1-1/2 of fuel on touchdown we had 20 second. >> lift off. >> reporter: the space shuttle program will end next year and nasa is now planning on heading back to the moon. aldrine questions the motive.
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he say that the moon is a barren world. and will not advance america. >> by the time we get to the moon it'll be past the 50th anniversary. 50 years ago we pioneered the moon. why are we going back to pioneer the moon again? >> reporter: instead aldrine wants the future leaders to think boldly. >> we need u.s. global space leadership over all. that's the objective right now. >> reporter: to send the goal of sending humans to mars and not just to take pictures but to make the plant the first homestead in space. >> he's very passionate in going in that direction, then i applaud what he's saying and yes, yes, we should be taking a very, very good look at this. >> and that's it for this week's second look. i'm frank somerville. we'll see you again next week.
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