CBS News stock footage.
Dateline July 16th, 1969. A CBS News Special Report appears on screen, showing a tall rocket, venting vapor, perched on a launch pad. The familiar voice intones: ". . . and its just five minutes to the launch of Apollo 11, all going well. Astronauts Armstrong, Collins, and Aldrin sitting there atop the great Saturn rocket in their command module, getting ready for launch . . . . . "
The familiar face appears on-screen: "Man going to the Moon this morning from this Florida launch complex aboard that Saturn rocket . . ."
Original: Mr. Cronkite delivers open in front of green screen with historical images of Apollo 11 and himself behind him.
Through the electronic magic of television, Walter Cronkite as he is today appears in front of his own image made over 30 years ago on that historic date. He begins: "That was an unforgettable day. For me, it was living at the center of history and telling it as it happened - something every reporter dreams of doing. It was the biggest story of the century. Because of television, it had the biggest audience in human history. Everyone was looking to the heavens . . .
. . .and missed the other big story, the other historic mission. At the time, even I was unaware of a second NASA mission which, in a truly stunning coincidence, launched the day before Apollo 11 departed for the Moon. Of course, all eyes were on the three astronauts. No one was watching the launch of PX-15.
The mission of PX-15 became a kind of lost mission, unknown and unremarked in history. There were no cheering crowds, no Presidential phone calls, no ticker tape parades greeting the returning crew. Yet, six brave men left Earths atmosphere in a second space ship, on an equally historic mission of their own. It has remained unknown and forgotten . . . . until now.
Very few reporters get a second chance to scoop a big story. In the next hour, and more than 30 years after the fact, I will report on the mission of PX-15, better known as the Ben Franklin.
To do that, we have to return to another time, to a very different America than the one we know today."
| Page 1 | NEXT PAGE