Richard Nafzger

Apollo Television Ground Support Engineer

But first – An Emmy for the Apollo 11 TV

Dick Nafzger

Dick Nafzger has a unique perspective, being responsible for the ground support of all Apollo television.

He also was the Team Lead for the Apollo 11 Tape Search.

On 22nd August 2009, NASA was awarded the Philo T. Farnsworth Primetime Emmy Award for its live broadcast of the Apollo 11 EVA.

Dick Nafzger (“just an engineer from NASA”) accepted the award on behalf of all who worked on lunar television. It was presented by actress June Lockhart (Maureen Robinson from Lost in Space).
Apollo 11 LM Pilot Buzz Aldrin also received an Emmy.

To see Dick’s acceptance speech, click here for a 20MB MPEG4 video.

Philo T. Farnsworth invented the first all-electronic television system. During the Apollo 11 telecast, he remarked to his wife that it had made his work worthwhile.

See also the Emmy awarded in 1970 to Stan Lebar and Westinghouse.


Part 1 – Television from Space – will it work?

audio part 1 (39 minutes, 14MB mp3 file)

Getting into television.
Starting with NASA in early 1968.
Early days at Goddard.
Scan converters.
Apollo 7 – TV or no TV?
Apollo 8.
Apollo 10.
Will there be TV from the Moon on Apollo 11?
How to get a good picture from the Moon – the challenge of using a system never designed to carry TV.

Part 2 – Coming to Australia in 1969 to prepare for Apollo 11

audio part 2 (24 minutes, 8.6MB mp3 file)

Coming to Australia.
Everyone loved NASA.
Protocols and OTC.
What it was like staying at Kings Cross in 1969.
Setting up Sydney Video – Ted Knotts, Bob Blake, and the “NASA Annex”.
Blowing up the scan converter (more in part 3).

Part 3 – Further preparations for Apollo 11

audio part 3 (13 minutes, 3.2MB mp3 file)

Taking delivery of the RCA Scan Converters.
How they worked.
Setting up at Madrid, experiences at Goldstone.
7:00 – setting up in Australia, converters at Sydney and Honeysuckle, blowing up the Sydney scan converter. Figuring out what had happened. RCA sends help.

Part 4 – First TV from the lunar surface Apollo 11

audio part 4 (24 minutes, 5.7MB mp3 file)

From Sydney, back to Goddard and then to Houston for the Mission.
Background – to fly TV or not?
4:00 – Building 30, the TV Area, Ed Tarkington.
Background: Difficulties getting operator training for the TV.
7:00 – TV on the day, and reflecting on the quality years later.
10:00 – recording the TV, wondering what it would look like, what could have gone wrong.
14:00 – How the TV could have been better planned long term.
17:00 – Stan Lebar.
22:00 – Apollo 12.

Interviews recorded by Colin Mackellar, 26 March – 07 April 2010
while Dick was still at the Goddard Space Flight Center.
© With thanks to Dick Nafzger!

Dick Nafzger

Dick Nafzger with a production model of the Westinghouse Lunar Surface Camera, at the National Electronics Museum, Linthicum, Maryland, April 2011.

Larger, Full photo.