Letters to the Editor

Collins engineer brought the moon to our TVs

Many of us recall the words: “That’s one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind.”

“Magnificent desolation.”

“We came in peace for all mankind.”

If not for a man in Cedar Rapids, those words may have been less memorable. But for one man, we wouldn’t have seen the astronauts as they spoke them.

At the premiere of Collins Radio’s “Live From The Moon,” I spoke with Collins engineers who made the Apollo communications systems. I learned who convinced NASA to add video to voice, data, telemetry, navigation and biometrics between the Earth and moon. Dr. Roger Pierce, Project Apollo technical director for Collins, told NASA, “Collins can include television, and we’ll prove it in a technical study.” TV became part of the program.

What if he hadn’t done that? It wasn’t in NASA’s original plan. No lunar craters as the Apollo 8 crew read from Genesis on Christmas Eve, 1968. No Old Glory over the Sea of Tranquility on Apollo 11. Alan Shepard hitting a golf ball about a mile on Apollo 14 would have been just a story.

Thank you, Dr. Pierce. Because you inspired Collins to go the extra mile, we have a far richer visual record of our trips to another world. Live television from the Moon kept the nation and the world spellbound. It gave America something it needed in the turbulent ‘60s: pride and hope.

David M. LaRonde

Cedar Rapids

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We value your trust and work hard to provide fair, accurate coverage. If you have found an error or omission in our reporting, tell us here.

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