Original air date: 06/16/2019 Runtime: 51:11 min. It began with the Soviet satellite Sputnik beeping over America’s skies in 1957 and entered overdrive with President Kennedy’s challenge in 1961 to reach the moon by the end of the decade. The early days of the Space Race were full of urgency, uncertainty, huge risks, and even bigger rewards. Witness NASA’s first team of astronauts endure a crash course in space travel, presented through rare archival footage, interviews, and objects on display and in the vaults of the Smithsonian’s National Air and Space Museum.
Original air date: 06/23/2019 Runtime: 51:11 min. In the mid-1960s, the dream of reaching the moon is closer than ever to becoming a reality. After years on the learning curve with Projects Mercury and Gemini, the world watches as the Apollo program nears its first launch. But in January 1967, America stumbles tragically when Gus Grissom, Ed White, and Roger Chaffee die in a flash fire during a routine ground test. The future of the space program is in jeopardy until the Saturn V lifts the hopes of NASA and the nation into the stratosphere.
Original air date: 06/30/2019 Runtime: 51:01 min. The conflict in Vietnam, racial tensions, and a pair of shocking assassinations in 1968 threaten to fray the social fabric of America beyond repair. NASA tries to stay on track and meet the deadline JFK set to send a man to the moon and back. Through rare archival interviews, images that still resonate with wonder, and objects from the Smithsonian Institution, see how Apollo missions 7, 8, and 9 set the stage for humankind’s greatest voyage.
Original air date: 07/07/2019 Runtime: 51:01 min. A million spectators gather to witness the launch of Apollo 11 from Kennedy Space Center in 1969. The mission will be the culmination of a decade of sacrifice, dedication, and sheer determination to get a foothold on another world. Now, the hopes of the nation rest on the next eight days. Look back on humankind’s most ambitious journey, revealed through iconic and rarely seen footage, archival interviews with astronauts Neil Armstrong, Buzz Aldrin, and Michael Collins, and secrets hidden inside Smithsonian’s National Air and Space Museum.
Original air date: 07/14/2019 Runtime: 51:01 min. The world celebrated the first moon landing in July 1969. After the success of Apollo 11, NASA dreams up new missions, each more ambitious than the last. But a series of budget cuts, waning public interest, and two near-disasters put the future of the space program in jeopardy. Through archival footage, interviews, and objects inside Smithsonian’s National Air and Space Museum, revisit the Apollo 12 computer crash and the Apollo 13 mid-space explosion.
Original air date: 07/21/2019 Runtime: 51:01 min. After the near-disaster of Apollo 13, NASA faces increased political and public pressure to prove moon landings are still worth the cost and the risk. Despite a series of missions that push science and engineering to the limit, the program is ultimately grounded, not by dangers or disasters, but by budget cuts. Experience Apollo’s last, glorious chapter, presented through interviews with the astronauts who took part in the final adventures and the stories behind objects inside Smithsonian’s National Air and Space Museum.