Apollo 17 TV


Live from the Moon

Apollo 17 EVA television as seen at Honeysuckle Creek.
Recorded by Video Tech Ed von Renouard with his Super 8 camera.

Click the image or here to see the video on Vimeo.

Live from the Moon

While little live TV from Apollo 17 was shown on US networks, the Australian television networks (notably the ABC) provided extensive coverage.

(The Australian Broadcasting Commission’s radio coverage was anchored by Peter Pockley. The TV coverage was anchored by Clive Robertson.)

“APOLLO XVII – Live from the Moon” – for Australian viewers, the TV from Honeysuckle and Parkes was released direct to the Australian networks without first being sent to Houston.

The US networks had a cleaner colour signal which had noise reduction applied in real time by Image Transform in Los Angeles.

In 1972, Australian TV had not yet converted to colour, so it didn’t matter that the signal provided from Sydney Video was black and white. (The “sequential color” from the Moon was converted to NTSC color in Houston.)

At Honeysuckle, as noted below, a colour picture was reconstructed for in-house use.

Photo: Colin Mackellar, 1972.


Honeysuckle Creek video section during Apollo 17


Ed von Renouard writes:

“From Apollo 15 onward we had two Ampex VR660 helical-scan video recorders which are the ones you can see in the photo [below].

The scan converter had been retired and the downlink was now all-singing-and-dancing frame-sequential NTSC-standard colour TV as evinced by the RCA colour monitor on top of the rack (frame-sequential because of the RGB colour wheel in front of the vidicon camera used on the moon, the reference colour was green).”

Nevil Eyre at video console

Honeysuckle Creek Test Equipment Supervisor Nevil Eyre in the video section during Apollo 17.

Note the two Ampex VR600 2" video-tape recorders on the left and the older Ampex VR1100 on the right.

Polaroid photo scanned by Ed von Renouard.

HSK video
Corrected view by Mike Dinn.

The video that was on the monitor

And this is the scene that was on the monitor – Apollo 17, EVA 1, Jack Schmitt setting up the SEP (Surface Electrical Properties Experiment) at 123:07:30GET.

With thanks to Ian Regan for finding the video segment. This screenshot is from Mark Gray’s Apollo 17 DVD set.

Nevil Eyre in video section

Another photo of Nevil Eyre at the video equipment during Apollo 17 EVA 1 – about the same time as the photo below. From a Polaroid scanned by Nevil Eyre.

video area Apollo 17

Nevil Eyre at the video racks, near the start of the Apollo 17 EVA 1 – at 122:25:48GET.

From left: Nevil Eyre, Bryan Sullivan (farthest from camera, leaning forward), John McLeod (next to Bryan) and Les Paal.

On the monitor, we see the television from Geology station 1, near Steno crater. See the screenshot below.

Polaroid by Ed von Renouard, scanned by Nevil Eyre.

what was on the monitor

And here’s a deskewed picture of the monitor.

what was on the monitor

And this is the scene that was on the monitor – from the first Geology station, near Steno crater.

Part of the Rover and the high gain antenna is seen in the left of the picture. On the right Gene Cernan (front) and Jack Schmitt (behind – holding a rake) are about to sample soil. This screenshot is also from Mark Gray’s Apollo 17 DVD set.

After the 1st EVA

video area Apollo 17

From left: Nevil Eyre, Bill Perrin (standing), Evonne Vey ? (seated, back to camera) and Les Paal.

This must have been taken around 6.5 hours later – just after the first Apollo 17 EVA had finished (like the photo below). Nevil is perhaps logging videotapes, and the TV from the Moon has been replaced by what might be described as a test picture, on the monitor at right.

Photo: Ed von Renouard.

Recorders, Apollo 17

Hard working recorder people John Vanderkly (on left) and Brian Hale during Apollo 17.

Note the Mincom M22 recorders on either side (and the hand-winder on the mission clock!).

This was taken not long after Apollo 17’s first EVA. 128:57:52GET, or 10:50:53pm AEDT at Honeysuckle on Tuesday December 12, 1972.

On the Moon, Gene Cernan and Jack Schmitt are settling down to sleep – and activities in the recorder section are also winding down (or should that be winding up?).

Hamish Lindsay adds that this timing puts the photo “towards the end of our pass (Tues 12 Dec, AOS 1232 : LOS 2312) with MAD already tracking, and the two spacecraft in a rest period, the LM astronauts having just completed their first EVA (Start 1054 End 1806 AEDT).”

Photo: Ed von Renouard.


Parkes to Sydney

Parkes to Sydney links A17

Schematic of the TV and telemetry links from Parkes to Redfern (Sydney) for Apollo 17.

While we don’t (yet) have diagrams for the TV links from Honeysuckle Creek to Sydney, this schematic for the links from Parkes to Sydney has been preserved.

This PMG (Postmaster-General’s Department) chart was commissioned by Geoff Foote.

Geoff was team-leader of a small team of Technical Officers from the PMG’s Radio Section. They were responsible for the transmission of the data and television signals from the Parkes Radio Telescope to Sydney.

The main circuit arrived in Sydney at Waverley, from whence it was sent via OTC Paddington to Sydney Video which was now located at the PMG’s Television Operations Centre (TOC) in the City South Telephone Exchange building at 219 Castlereagh Street.

The output from Sydney Video (which selected TV from Parkes or Honeysuckle) was then made available to Australian television netorks, as well as being sent to Redfern exchange for relay via microwave bearers to Moree Satellite Earth Station and thence to the USA via Intelsat III F4.

In 1997, Gordon Bennett, a retired Parkes PMG technician, loaned the schematic to John Sarkissian of CSIRO Parkes Observatory, who photocopied the sheet in sections. It was reassembled and cleaned up by Colin Mackellar in 2010.

Large (780kb). Larger (2.3MB).

(Gordon also preserved the schematic for Apollo 11 on this page.)

Sydney Video – now in the TOC, Castlereagh Street

Sydney Video

Sydney Video at City South Telephone Exchange, 219 Castlereagh Street at the time of Apollo 17.

This photocopy of a photograph shows the team at Sydney Video in December 1972. It is now located in the Television Operations Centre in the City South Exchange.

Sydney Video was moved from Paddington to City South some time before Apollo 13.

Left to right: Peter Trost, John Murray, Pat Lynch, Ralph Zimitat, Dick Reader.

Photo via Mike Dinn. Scan by Colin Mackellar.