Missouri Western’s Walter Cronkite Memorial in Spratt Hall is highlighting some of the more astronomical aspects of the famous journalist’s career to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Apollo 11 mission.
On July 16, 1969, NASA successfully launched both Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin to the moon.
And through it all, Cronkite was there: educating viewers using models, building the knowledge of the American public through his close connections with NASA. It was a newscast that would go down in history, and Cronkite would earn an Emmy for his efforts.
“Walter Cronkite was a huge space fan; he was really legendary in that regard. He had a great relationship with NASA and was able to convey scientific principles to the American public in the 1960s during the bulk of those space programs,” said Amanda Morrow, the curator at the Walter Cronkite Memorial. “Cronkite really believed that the space travel in the ’60s was one of his most important stories.”
New additions to the exhibit include pictures from the CBS archives, as well as a number of models and Cronkite’s aforementioned Emmy for the CBS News broadcast, “Man on the Moon: The Epic Journey of Apollo XI.”
Other items from the Cosmosphere in Hutchinson, Kansas, also are on display, from potato soup from the Apollo 8 mission to one of the space shuttle suits Cronkite would have worn when training for space travel as part of his national coverage. Those items will be displayed through August.
These new displays complement a 34-foot-tall Saturn 5 rocket from the Apollo 11 mission that was constructed for the memorial back in 2016. Eric Fuson, the artist-in-residence at Missouri Western, helped construct the statue and said one of his favorite aspects of the memorial is the newscasts made available to visitors.
“Some of these news broadcasts, some people haven’t seen them since that day in the format that they’re in,” he said. “We’ve got footage of him talking about the mission — his actual broadcast — and you can go push a button and watch it.”
The Walter Cronkite Memorial is open from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. from Monday through Friday, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday and 1 to 4 p.m. Sunday. Fuson said the exhibit can appeal to all ages.
“It’s a great multi-generational experience,” he said. “Some of the younger kids can appreciate the rocket and see some of the things from space. At the same time, they can have interactions with parents and grandparents that have direct memories of these events.”