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miércoles, 3 de junio de 2009

The Voice of Space Flight

Though Paul Haney’s voice hasn’t been heard in a NASA broadcast since 1969, it echoes in the minds of generations of Americans whenever we think of mankind’s voyage into space.

Haney, who died last Thursday at 80, was the original broadcast voice of Mission Control. He provided live commentary during the Apollo and Gemini spaceflights of the 1960s, his measured tones a perfect counterpoint to the moments’ natural drama.

My favorite Haney recording comes from the liftoff of Apollo 10, the second manned mission to the moon. In evenly measured cadences he segues from the astronauts’ last pre-flight preparations to the countdown itself, his voice rising only when he can no longer be heard over the rockets’ rumble.

If you listen carefully, you can hear a barely-restrained excitement and nervousness at the edges of his voice. It’s at once technocratic and boyish, awed and frightened, proud and humbled — the very essence of a journey from Earth’s safe harbor into the frigid majesty of space, aboard a fragile metal bubble.

Haney was fired in 1969 after clashing with agency officials over public access to space program information. But his voice will live forever.

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