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Newsman Walter Cronkite to be honored by NASA for his coverage of America's space program

Walter Cronkite at CBS News Desk

Contact: Alison Beck, Associate Director
Center for American History
Phone: (512) 495-4515
Fax: (512) 495-4542
al.beck@mail.utexas.edu

Date: February 27, 2006

(Austin, Tx) -- Veteran newsman Walter Cronkite will be honored at The University of Texas at Austin Tuesday, Feb. 28, by the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) for his coverage of America's space program with the presentation of the Ambassador of Exploration Award.

Cronkite, a former student at The University of Texas at Austin, will become the first non-astronaut and only non-NASA individual to receive the award - a small sample of lunar material encased in Lucite and mounted for public display. NASA also is presenting the Ambassador of Exploration Award, in ceremonies elsewhere, to the 38 astronauts and other key individuals who participated in the Mercury, Gemini and Apollo space programs, for realizing America's vision of space exploration from 1961 to 1972.

The ceremony, hosted by the university's Center for American History, will begin at 2 p.m. (Central Standard Time) Tuesday, Feb. 28, at KLRU TV Studio A (Austin City Limits Studio) at 2504-B Whitis Ave. Because of limited seating, admission will be limited to invited guests. At 3 p.m., Cronkite will begin a taped interview with KLRU-TV's Texas Monthly Talks with host Evan Smith. Other news media representatives may attend the taping, however no flash photography or video cameras will be allowed during the taping.

Prior to the award ceremony, Cronkite will meet with reporters at a press conference at 10:30 a.m., Tuesday, Feb. 28, in the Arno Nowotny Building, at the corner of Martin Luther King, Jr. Blvd. and Red River Street. Parking for the news media will be available in Lot 108, accessible via the service drive between the Frank Erwin Center and the Nowotny Building.

Cronkite attended The University of Texas at Austin in the 1930s and worked as a student reporter for The Daily Texan campus newspaper. Although he did not graduate from the university, he has never forgotten his alma mater. He has been an adjunct faculty member in the College of Communication and taught a three-day honors seminar in 1988. Friends and supporters have endowed the Walter Cronkite Regents Chair in Communication, which at his request, is reserved for the dean of the College of Communication. He also has lent his voice to the UT Virtual Campus, a multimedia tour of the campus available on the Internet. He also has dubbed the voiceover for a series of university television spots that air nationally and regionally during athletic events.

The moon rock to be awarded to Cronkite is part of the 842 pounds of samples brought back to Earth during the six Apollo lunar expeditions from 1969 to 1972. Cronkite will present the lunar sample to William Powers Jr., president of The University of Texas at Austin, who will accept the award on behalf of the Center for American History, the archival home of the Walter Cronkite papers. The sample will be displayed in the Center's exhibit gallery.

"We are deeply honored by Walter Cronkite's decision to entrust this prestigious award to the Center for American History," said the center's director, Don Carleton, Ph.D., the J.R. Parten Chair in the Archives of American History. "The Center already serves as the proud steward of his professional and personal papers, which include his coverage of the space program for CBS News. It is especially fitting that the archive documenting Walter's distinguished career should also include one of the Moon rocks that the heroic astronauts of the Apollo program brought to Earth."

Cronkite is the best-remembered journalist for his commentary and enthusiastic coverage of the historic progression of missions from the early Mercury launches, through the groundbreaking Gemini missions, to the Apollo 11 and subsequent moon landings. His marathon, live coverage of the first moon landing brought the excitement and impact of the historic event into the homes of millions of Americans and observers around the world.

Information about NASA and agency programs may be viewed online at http://www.nasa.gov/home.

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