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American Experience: Chasing the Moon

Monday–Wednesday, July 8–10 at 9 p.m. — Experience the thrilling era of the space race, from its earliest days to the 1969 moon landing.

 

American Experience: Chasing the Moon

More About American Experience: Chasing the Moon

A signature program of PBS Summer of Space programming, "Chasing the Moon" is a new six-hour documentary series about the space race, from its earliest beginnings to the monumental achievement of the first lunar landing in 1969 and beyond. Scheduled in conjunction with the 50th anniversary of the Apollo 11 moon landing, "Chasing the Moon” is a film by Robert Stone and marks his eighth project for American Experience.  

“Chasing the Moon” thoroughly reimagines the race to the moon for a new generation, upending much of the conventional mythology surrounding the effort. The three-part series recasts the Space Age as a fascinating stew of scientific innovation and PR savvy, political calculation and media spectacle, visionary impulses and personal drama. With no narration and using only archival footage — including  a visual feast of previously lost or overlooked material — the film features new interviews with a diverse cast of characters who played key roles in these historic events. Among those included are astronauts Buzz Aldrin, Frank Borman and Bill Anders; Freeman Dyson, the renowned futurist and theoretical physicist; Sergei Khrushchev, the son of former Soviet premier Nikita Khrushchev, who played a prominent role in the Soviet space program as a rocket engineer; Poppy Northcutt, the 25-year-old “mathematics whiz” who gained worldwide attention as the first woman to serve in the all-male bastion of NASA’s Mission Control; and Ed Dwight, the Air Force pilot selected by the Kennedy administration to train as America’s first black astronaut.

While other documentaries have largely painted a familiar narrative of goals set, obstacles overcome, disasters averted and missions accomplished, “Chasing the Moon” tells a vastly more entertaining and surprising story. As the film reveals, the drive to land a man on the moon was fueled as much by politics as it was by technology and was a controversial undertaking during a volatile time.  

Watch a Preview of American Experience: Chasing the Moon