Oklahomans and their contributions to the space program will be the topic of a documentary series airing in June and July on OETA.
The “Oklahomans and Space” series begins airing weekly at 10 p.m. Tuesday on the public television station. Each episode will run 60 minutes. The first installment chronicles the role former Sen. Robert S. Kerr played in NASA and the Tulsa Use of Space Conference in May 1961.
Other episodes cover Shawnee native Gordon Cooper’s work in the Mercury program and Weatherford native Thomas Stafford’s flights in Gemini 6 and 9 as well as his Apollo 10 mission.
The seven-episode series concludes July 22 with a 90-minute episode of Oklahomans currently involved in the space program’s long-term planning.
The series is produced by Bill Moore, who authored a book by the same title in 2011. He has been working on the documentary series for more than 14 years beginning with an interview with Cooper in 2000.
Moore retired from the Oklahoma Historical Society five years ago but continued to work on the project, which was funded by a grant from the Pauline Dwyer Macklanburg and Robert A. Macklanburg Foundation.
“It’s a lifelong passion,” Moore said. “I watched Apollo 8 circle the moon and it had a huge impact on me as a boy. As I grew older, one of the things that really stood out to me was the number of people from Oklahoma involved in the space program. And not just astronauts, there were a lot of people who were more behind the scenes.”
Moore enjoyed hearing the stories of astronauts and others involved in the space program the most.
“Thomas Stafford told me about how his mother came to Oklahoma in a covered wagon and later watched her son orbit the moon on a color television,” Moore said. “There were so many incredible stories like that. It was very satisfying to tell them, especially from those who were behind the scenes.”