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To the Moon

Program Overview

For two hours in July of 1969, the world stood still as man landed and walked on the moon. Tens of millions watched it happen, on blurry black and white television, beamed back a quarter million miles across the heavens. For the first time in human history, all mankind could observe a profound discovery as it happened. A generation later, in July of 1999, a two-hour NOVA special television event will mark the 30th anniversary of the greatest science and engineering adventure of all time—going behind the scenes to tell the stories the astronauts and the unsung heroes of lunar exploration—the scientists and engineers who made it happen.

When President John F. Kennedy pledged to put a man on the moon by the end of the 60s, not a single person in the nascent US space agency had a clue as to how this would be accomplished. After all, it was April, 1961, just two weeks after an American flew into space for the first time.

Everything was unknown and in debate—how would they get there? And how to return? The technologies—for propulsion, navigation, and life support—had yet to be invented and tested. At the time, no computers, batteries, communication, let alone rockets or spacecraft capable of the mission were on the drawing boards. The task seemed endless, even impossible. Then, before the plans were barely outlined, the President was dead, leaving the mission to continue. The task was daunting.

NOVA's TO THE MOON is a celebration of that remarkable achievement and an exploration of the future of space technology.

Teacher's Guide
To the Moon