"Paul Haney, Voice of Mission Control, Dies at 80"
June 2nd, 2009
The New York Times
June 2nd, 2009
The New York Times
Paul Haney, who was known as the voice of NASA's mission control for his live commentary during the Gemini and Apollo space flights in the 1960s, died Thursday in Alamogordo, N.M. He was 80.
The cause was melanoma, which had spread to the brain, said his wife, Jan.
It was Mr. Haney's voice as director of public affairs that broadcast audiences heard live from the Houston control room, explaining what was going on. The calmness that the public heard from 1965 to 1969, as Mr. Haney announced tense events like launchings and difficult recoveries, contrasted with some behind-the scenes conflict.
Working as a newspaper reporter before and after his time at NASA, Mr. Haney pushed the space agency to share more information with reporters and often clashed with engineers and astronauts who sought to avoid disclosures that might be embarrassing.
"He believed it should all be open," said Bill Johnson, who worked for Mr. Haney at NASA. "That was his conflict with the other branches of NASA. Eventually that was what got him fired."
One clash in spring 1969 was with Donald K. Slayton, known as Deke, the astronaut who then was head of the astronaut office, over access to a lunar landing practice session by Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin.
Some NASA officials did not want reporters present. Mr. Haney did. In a compromise, Mr. Armstrong and Mr. Aldrin performed the session twice, once for the officials and once for journalists.
Mr. Johnson said Mr. Haney profusely thanked the astronauts, who were exhausted by the end of the day, but said the incident was "the straw that broke the camel's back."
Mr. Slayton, who died in 1993, maintained a friendship with Mr. Haney in later life.
Mr. Haney also had disagreements with Julian Scheer, the top NASA public affairs official in Washington, although they agreed on a need for openness. Mr. Scheer died in 2001.
A few days after the clash with Mr. Slayton, Mr. Scheer told Mr. Haney to report to a new post in Washington, far from the main Apollo activities in Houston.
In an oral history recorded by the NASA Johnson Space Center in 2003, Mr. Haney recalled that he replied: "I guess I have some options here, and I choose to exercise one. I quit."
That was only a few months before the historic moon landing.
Mr. Haney went to London, where he provided NASA commentary for the Independent Television News in Britain and wrote for The Economist.
Paul Prichard Haney was born July 20, 1928, in Akron, Ohio. He worked at night for The Associated Press while attending Kent State University. After receiving a journalism degree in 1949, he worked at several newspapers before moving to The Evening Star in Washington.
In 1957, the Soviet Union launched the Sputnik satellite. The newly formed National Aeronautics and Space Administration was looking for public information officers. Mr. Haney signed on and started work during the week of Christmas in 1958.
In 1963, after almost leaving NASA for IBM, he became director of public affairs at Johnson, then known as the Manned Spacecraft Center. Among his duties, he provided mission commentary of the Gemini and Apollo missions through Apollo 9.
After leaving NASA, Mr. Haney worked at a variety of jobs, including handling public affairs for the Astrodome in Houston, the Port of Galveston and a broadcast lobbying group. But "he always went back to newspapering," Mrs. Haney said.
He also worked for newspapers in Houston, Charleston, S.C., and St. Petersburg, Fla.
In 1983, he and his wife bought The Homesteader News, a small community newspaper in a town east of El Paso. Mr. Haney was the writer, editor and publisher for six and a half years.
His first marriage, to Jane Bramley, ended in divorce.
In addition to his second wife, Jan, Mr. Haney is survived by two daughters, Maura Ford and Megan Reeves, both of El Dorado Hills, Calif.; a stepson, Richard Shrum of El Paso; a sister, Mary Wilson of Stow, Ohio; and seven grandchildren.
The Haneys eventually moved to High Rolls, N.M., where they bought a cherry orchard.
"At that point, he pretty much retired," Mrs. Haney said.
People would come to pick cherries and talk to Mr. Haney about the space program. "Oftentimes," she said, "I had no help with the orchard, because he was talking to people."
"Paul Haney, former 'voice' of manned space flight, dies at 80"
June 3rd, 2009
The Los Angeles Times
June 3rd, 2009
The Los Angeles Times
Paul Haney, a former Washington journalist who went on to become the "voice" of manned space flight for NASA's Gemini and Apollo programs, died Thursday at a nursing home in Alamogordo, N.M. He was 80.
Haney had been battling melanoma for more than two years and it had spread to his brain, according to the Alamogordo Funeral Home.
In 1958 he joined the recently created NASA as a public information officer after spending almost five years as a reporter for the Washington Evening Star.
His first task at the nascent space agency, he recalled in 2003 for the NASA Johnson Space Center Oral History Project, was to "try to figure out what a public information officer should do." Mainly, he felt, it was to cut through bureaucracy and be as open as possible.
In 1963, Haney was promoted to chief of public affairs at the Manned Spacecraft Center in Houston, which eventually became the Johnson center. He soon took on the additional duty of providing commentary from Mission Control that was fed to broadcast television viewers.
He covered multiple flights during the Gemini program, which consisted of two-man missions designed to bridge the gap between the founding Mercury program and the Apollo program, which first sent people to the moon. Among the historic -- and tense -- moments Haney narrated for the public was the arrival of Apollo 8 at the moon on Christmas Eve of 1968. The world waited as the spacecraft went to the far side of the moon into a communications blackout, after which it would be known whether the crew had successfully entered orbit around the celestial body. After minutes of silence, Haney exclaimed, "We got it! We've got it! Apollo 8 now in lunar orbit."
Paul Prichard Haney was born July 20, 1928, in Akron, Ohio. To pay his way through Ohio's Kent State University, he worked nights for the Associated Press. He served in the Navy during the Korean War before going to work for the Star.
Haney said in the 2003 oral history project that his experience covering space before taking the NASA job was largely limited to a man-on-the street piece he did for the Star after the Soviets launched the Sputnik satellite in 1957. Nor was he as enamored of flight as the general public or the man who preceded him as the voice of NASA's missions, Lt. Col. John A. Powers.
His job required managing some of the darker days in NASA's history, as when a plane carrying two Gemini crew members crashed in St. Louis in 1965, killing both astronauts. And there was also the Jan. 27, 1967, fire on the pad of Apollo 1 that left three astronauts dead.
Haney repeatedly clashed with agency administrators, such as chief astronaut Donald K. "Deke" Slayton, over press access and Haney's dual roles as mission commentator and public affairs official. Haney chose to quit NASA in 1969 rather than be reassigned to a position in Washington. He told the Washington Post in April of that year that he was especially bitter that he would miss the first lunar landing, which took place July 20, 1969.
The rest of his career included doing NASA commentary for Independent Television News in London and writing for the Economist magazine and the Evening Post in Charleston, S.C.
His first marriage to the former Jane Bramley ended in divorce.
Survivors include his wife, Janet Haney; two daughters from his first marriage; a stepson; a sister; and seven grandchildren.