Voice of Apollo/Saturn Launch Control
On the morning Alan Shepard was launched into space, Jack King saw the streaming fire beneath the rocket, heard the rumbling of powerful engines, considered the fact there was a person on top of that thing, and realized the historical impact of an American finally going up. It brought tears to the eyes of NASA's chief public information officer.
“When you're close to something like that, and you know what everyone has gone through to make it happen, it affects you,” King says.
Eight years later, in 1969, as the voice of Apollo/Saturn Launch Control, King counted down the liftoff of Apollo 11—America's first stab at landing a man on the moon. His words, delivered with a brash Boston accent, were heard on television and radio throughout the world.
By his estimation, King had done hundreds of launches by then, including all the manned flights since Gemini 4. They never became routine, whether it was a satellite or a human onboard. But since the Shepard flight, and especially after becoming part of the launch team, King had made it a point to keep his emotions intact. Provide information quickly and succinctly, he always reminded himself, and don't become part of the story.
Yet as the final anxious seconds of the Apollo 11 countdown burst into a thunderous roar that rattled furniture for miles down the coast of Florida, Jack King's emotions nearly got the best of him.
“Six, five, four, three, two” his voice began to crack, “… one, zero. All engines running? At this point, there was a slight pause as the Saturn V, carrying three astronauts, slowly rose from the launch pad with force