Reflections of a Golden Era
During the extraordinarily dynamic period covered in this book, Paul
Haney became widely known as NASA’S “voice of Mission Control, “and
later its “voice of Apollo.” A journalist and news editor from Akron,
Ohio, Haney joined the fledgling space agency as an information offi-
cer based in Washington DC and later served in NASA’S Public Affairs
Office as its first news director. In 1963 he moved to Houston’s Manned
Spacecraft Center (later the Johnson Space Center [JSC]) as NASA’S pub-
lic affairs officer in their Office of Manned Spaceflight.
In October 1957 the Soviet Union launched its Sputnik satellite. It shocked, surprised, amazed, and confounded the federal establishment in Washington. At the time I was working for the 140-year-old Washington Evening Star.
Following the Sputnik announcement the Star commissioned me to do something that usually preceded a congressional vote on whether to go to war—a special section called a “man-in-the-street” reaction. The national reaction went deep: a majority decided there was something wrong with America’s education system. Teachers began doubting the efficacy of the McGuffey Reader, an educational standard since the 1840s. At the very least, the Soviet space challenge ushered something called New Math into American grade schools.
In December 1958 I quit the Star, having accepted an invitation to join America’s brand-new space agency, NASA, as their first news division chief. To me, the space challenge seemed capable of becoming at least as big as the opening up of the western United States, 150 years earlier. It was one of the few times in my life when I guessed right.