On 20 July 2019, it will be 50 years since man first walked on the moon.
This documentary tells the dramatic story of how astronauts Neil Armstrong, Buzz Aldrin and Michael Collins got there, from the perspective of key figures in and around the Apollo 11 mission.
Over 400,000 people played a part in realising the goal set by President Kennedy by the end of the 1960s. Interviewee Michael Collins served as command module pilot, orbiting the Moon alone as his colleagues made those iconic first steps. Although considered by many to be the loneliest man in the Universe, Collins’s view is quite the opposite. “I considered myself to be a king,” he says. He was well aware though that if Armstrong and Aldrin were unable to depart the lunar surface he would be travelling home alone.
Three of the key figures in Mission Control, iconic Flight Director Gene Kranz, Capsule Communicator Charles Duke and Guidance Officer Steve Bales, explain just how close Apollo 11 came to failure at a number of points during its hazardous descent to the lunar surface.
Astronaut Frank Borman, commander of Apollo 8, was NASA’s liaison in the White House on the day. Along with President Nixon’s executive assistant, Dwight Chapin, he discusses why the Moon landing was so much more than a scientific achievement for America and its President, in an era dominated by assassinations and an unpopular war.
Meanwhile, recalling their time growing up in so-called “Togethersville”, the cluster of Houston neighbourhoods that were home to America’s astronauts and their families, Andy Aldrin, son of Buzz, and Mark Armstrong, son of Neil, tell us what it was like for the wives and children as they nervously listened in to NASA’s radio feed.
British perspectives on this world-changing event are provided by Professor Brian Cox, astrophysicist and Queen guitarist Brian May and space scientist Dr Maggie Aderin Pocock, each of whom see the Apollo 11 mission as an influence on the shape of their own future careers. Sir Trevor McDonald, then a young reporter, recalls the excitement of watching the event from his home in Trinidad.
From the Mission Control press room, Guardian journalist Adam Raphael and CBS reporter David Schoumacher give their vivid memories of reporting the biggest story of their lives. Even though he was only six years old, future Space Shuttle astronaut Mike Massimino thought the moon landing was the most important thing that had happened in hundreds of years.
Narrated by Mark Strong, The Day We Walked On The Moon is the story of what, 50 years on, remains one of humanity’s greatest achievements – a moment etched in the minds of the 500 million people who watched it around the world on live TV.