Scouring 100 Apollo 11 Archives, 'Chasing the Moon' Brings Lunar Surprises

Space.com | 7/7/1961 | Elizabeth Howell
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The Apollo 11 moon mission — the first mission to land humans on the moon, 50 years ago this month — poses a challenge for documentarians, as footage about the mission is scattered across dozens of archives.

While NASA has made a wealth of footage about the mission available for free, many other archives from news networks and other sources have been left untapped. But when he began directing the PBS documentary "Chasing the Moon," Robert Stone wanted to change that.

Budget - Footage - End - Stone - Pieces

And he had the budget and will to sort through the footage. In the end, Stone pulled together pieces from about 100 archives into a three-part story about the Apollo 11 landing and the historical context in which it took place. Stone even has footage from the Soviet Union, NASA's old rival.

"Chasing the Moon" airs on PBS July 8 to 10 (all nights at 9 p.m. EDT), just days before the 50th anniversary of the moon landing, on July 20. The series covers the activities leading up to the Apollo 11 moon landing.

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"I was fortunate PBS gave me the time," Stone said. "It took me five years to make."

More accurately, the documentary took Stone a lifetime to make. He said he remembers watching the moon landing as a child and already knew who the major characters and plot points would be as he plotted out the scenes. He had some fresh ideas after watching a lot of Apollo films over the years, too.

Films - Astronauts - Event - Context - Adventure

"[The films] showed what it was like for the astronauts, but for me, the whole event was the cultural and political context of the adventure and that incredible experience of the world being united for a short moment of time, in our common humanity," he said. "I thought I could make a new and interesting contribution that...
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