Video: On This Day: 12/7 - TV Barely Covers Launch of Apollo 17 Mission
Welcome to BWW TV World's new daily ON THIS DAY series celebrating series premieres and special events that took place on this day in television history!
On December 7, 1972, NASA launched the Apollo 17 space mission. It was clear from the start that TV coverage of the mission, which included the crew of Commander Gene Cernan, Command Module Pilot Ron Evans and Lunar Module Pilot Jack Schmitt, would be at kept to a bare minimum. NBC, for example, came on the air at 9:45 pm, just 13 minutes prior to the scheduled launch time.
A big part of the problem was that the mission had been scheduled for a night launch, which for network executives meant "prime-time." The plan of all of the networks therefore was to catch Apollo 17 getting off the ground and into orbit, which was scheduled to take a total of 11 minutes and 46 seconds, and then switch immediately back to,“…our regularly scheduled program, already in progress,” thus keeping the prime-time advertising dollars and ratings points firmly in their pockets.
Below, check out the live TV feed of the historic launch from Cape Canaveral, Florida.