NASA Wins Emmy for Televised Apollo Moonlanding

America didn’t just put a man on the moon—we shot video and sent it to receive sites on different ends of the Earth in a one-of-kind format at 10 frames per second. The pictures underwent primitive conversion and reached television sets worldwide practically live.

Richard Nafzger will accept an Emmy Aug. 22 on behalf of the rest of the NASA team that brought the moonlanding video to the world.

Honoring that milestone and its 40th anniversary, NASA is getting an Emmy—the 2009 Philo T. Farnsworth Award, given for engineering excellence.

Richard Nafzger, an engineer at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md., was 28 when he was worked with the team charged with the historic task of getting the video down during the Apollo 11 mission, and he led NASA’s recent effort to recover and restore as much of the mission video as possible.

"I am honored to have been selected to accept this award on behalf of NASA and the hundreds of engineers and technicians who made the telecast of this historic event possible," he said.

Joining Nafzger in accepting the honor will be Apollo 11 Lunar Module Pilot and moonwalker Buzz Aldrin.

More than 600 million people worldwide saw the moonlanding of July 20, 1969 on television.

Named after the man credited with designing and building the world's first working television system, the Farnsworth award honors an agency, company or institution with contributions over a long period of time that have significantly affected the state of television technology and engineering.

In 1927, Farnsworth was the first inventor to transmit a television image comprised of 60 horizontal lines. He developed the dissector tube, the foundation of the modern electronic televisions

In a 1996 interview, his wife Elma, whose nickname was Pem, said the two of them watched with pride the televised Apollo 11 moonwalk. "We were watching it and when Neil Armstrong landed on the moon Phil turned to me and said, 'Pem, this has made it all worthwhile.' Before then, he wasn't too sure."

The Primetime Emmys are awarded by the Academy of Television Arts & Sciences. Recipients of the Engineering Awards will receive their statues during a special ceremony on Saturday, Aug. 22, at the Renaissance Hotel in Los Angeles.

This is NASA Television's second Emmy Award for 2009. In January, the Midsouth Chapter of the National Television Academy awarded NASA TV the Governor's Award for Lifetime Achievement at a ceremony in Nashville, Tenn.

Read more about the video component of the Apollo 11 mission in a three-part TV Technology series by James E. O’Neal. Part 1, “Television’s Longest Remote,” appeared in the July 8, 2009 issue. Part 2, "Equipping Apollo for Color Television," appeared July 22. Part 3, "Search for Missing Recordings Ends," appeared Aug. 5.