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The moon landing had The Sun’s attention in 1969

The moon landing had The Sun’s attention in 1969
Stanley Lebar with the television camera designed by Westinghouse for the Apollo 11 moon mission. (Westinghouse photo) (HANDOUT/Baltimore Sun)

Like every other newspaper in the world, The Sun was obsessed with all things lunar during the Apollo moon mission in 1969. Its reporters persistently found a Baltimore angle for the story of man’s landing on the moon.

A July 20 story told how the TV camera broadcasting from the surface of the moon was developed at Westinghouse’s plant in Linthicum. The camera, project manager Stanley Lebar assured concerned readers, was designed to withstand temperature extremes on the moon, which could zoom from 250º during the lunar day to -300º at night.

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More whimsically, reporter Michael K. Burns sought out Baltimoreans with space- and astronaut-themed names to get their reaction to Apollo 11. "That first step, when Armstrong was walking on the moon — that was it,” said Mrs. Antonio C. Luna. Mrs. Mildred Moon chimed in, “It was something magnificent, something I can’t put into words — man getting that close to God.”

Reporting on the July 20 moon landing from mission control in Houston, veteran Sun science reporter Albert Sehlstedt Jr. came up with an intro for the ages; his lead the next day read, “Men from earth stepped onto the surface of the moon tonight,” then continued, “Two American astronauts realized a dream of centuries by landing on the powdery lunar surface...”

Some Apollo references were more subtle. On the front page of the Jan. 21 Sun, a drawing of the Oriole bird, who would normally have been despondent after the O’s lost to Boston, 6-5, was instead smiling and waving an American flag. And on the front page of that day’s Evening Sun, some puckish editor added an extra vowel to the day of the week; the publication date was listed as “BALTIMORE, MOONDAY, JULY 21, 1969.”

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