“Space Down to Earth” is a circa 1970 NASA education film that explores how science impacts not only the exploration of space but also life on Earth. The color film begins with “sounds” from space — signals from satellites orbiting Earth — each of which have their own signature, or tone. Such application satellites serve many different functions, we are told, including weather, communications, and Earth resources. Beginning at mark 01:45, the narrator explains how satellites such as Nimbus and TIROS track weather conditions around the globe, including hurricanes, as we see scenes from 1969’s Hurricane Camille — a catastrophic Category 5 hurricane that struck the Gulf Coast of the United States. (TIROS, we’re told at mark 06:00, also carries equipment that can help spot solar flares). Satellites are also used in communications, we’re told starting at mark 09:30, with those communication satellites doing everything from assisting in telephone calls to providing cable television service. At mark 10:26 we hear the voice of President Dwight D. Eisenhower transmitted in 1960 as a part of Project Echo, a metalized balloon satellite. We also see visit to Mexico City by Pope Paul VI (mark 11:27) and of course images of Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin on the lunar surface as part of the Apollo 11 mission (mark 11:32), and the crew of Apollo 13 (mark 11:48) after they narrowly escaped death and returned to Earth. Communication satellites are also used to aid aircraft and other transportation areas (mark 15:20), as we see jets taxi down the runway. By mark 19:50, the film focuses on the use of satellites on natural resources such as oceans and other waterways and how they are impacted by pollution. Satellites can also track a variety of geographic features and compare the data for any environmental changes. As it approaches its conclusion, the film teases Skylab (mark 24:53), a United States space station. Still a few years away from launch at the time of the film, the film interviews astronaut William Lenoir at mark 25:13. (Lenoir had hoped to fly on Skylab but only served as a member of a back-up crew on two missions). In his interview, he touts the importance of satellites and their benefits in studying the planet’s resources.

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