Two-Hour Feature Documentary, From Emmy- and Peabody Award-Winning Filmmaker Tom Jennings, Premieres Sunday, July 7, at 9/8c, and Launches Space Week Programming Event
The Film Showcases Never-Before-Heard Mission Recordings, Newly Transferred Footage and Rare Photographs of All 12 Crewed Missions to Tell the Complete Story Of NASA’s Historic Apollo Space Program
“We choose to go to the Moon in this decade and do the other things, not because they are easy, but because they are hard … because that challenge is one that we are willing to accept, one we are unwilling to postpone, and one which we intend to win.” – President John F. Kennedy, 1962
(Washington, D.C. / New York, N.Y. – June 4, 2019) On July 20, 1969, Neil Armstrong climbed down a small ladder to place a foot onto the moon’s surface and proclaimed, “That’s one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind.” On that fateful day, with more than half a billion people worldwide watching on television, Apollo 11 became the first spaceflight to land man on the moon. Led by astronauts Armstrong, Michael Collins and Buzz Aldrin, the mission effectively ended the Space Race and fulfilled a national goal set by President John F. Kennedy. This historic feat changed the world forever.
To commemorate the 50th anniversary, National Geographic kicks off its Space Week programming event with the epic two-hour feature documentary APOLLO: MISSIONS TO THE MOON. Airing globally in 172 countries and 43 languages, the film is executive produced and directed by acclaimed Emmy and Peabody Award-winning filmmaker Tom Jennings (“Challenger Disaster: Lost Tapes,” “Diana: In Her Own Words”).
The film weaves together more than 500 hours of footage, 800 hours of audio and 10,000 photos, using Jennings’ signature style of first-person storytelling to take viewers behind the scenes. This intimate, immersive account spans the full sweep of NASA’s Apollo Space Program — from the ill-fated Apollo 1 mission, which claimed the lives of three astronauts, to the final flight that brought the program to a close.
“Beyond audio and footage of the brave astronauts, APOLLO: MISSIONS TO THE MOON creates a tapestry of the collective sights and sounds that brings us back to the golden age of space,” says Jennings.
The film features newly transferred film and never-before-heard audio to recount the groundbreaking, key moments of America’s goal to land on the moon before 1970. With no narration nor modern-day talking heads, the missions are experienced entirely through archival TV footage, never-before-heard radio broadcasts, home movies, NASA film and mission-control audio to create an eyewitness-like experience. The film includes several firsts, including the combination of NASA footage with “black-box” recordings from Apollo capsules and the synchronization of 30-track audio from mission control.
“APOLLO: MISSIONS TO THE MOON unveils what was happening not only on the ground at mission control but also in the homes of the families and friends who stood by as their loved ones took to the skies,” says Jennings. “The whole world stopped for a moment to rejoice and take pride in the boundless sense of courage and optimism that Apollo made possible.”
“APOLLO: MISSIONS TO THE MOON is not just a show; it’s an experience,” says Geoff Daniels, executive vice president of global unscripted entertainment at National Geographic. “It’s filled with intimate, exquisite moments that put you on the edge of your seat and reveal the human face of heroism at a time when our country — and the world — was deeply divided. Apollo renewed our purpose and passion for space exploration, which is deeply woven into our human DNA and at the core of National Geographic. Now, 50 years later, this film could not be more relevant; it reminds us what we can achieve together and has the power to transform us all.”
Composed by James Everingham for Bleeding Fingers Music and produced by Academy Award, Golden Globe, Tony Award and Grammy Award winner Hans Zimmer and Emmy-nominated Russell Emanuel, the film’s score captures the spirit of the time. The predominantly orchestral score features electronically manipulated sounds from the 1960’s heyday of NASA space explorations, including the Apollo mission open radio frequencies, the Kepler Star and Sputnik’s telemetry beacon.
APOLLO: MISSIONS TO THE MOON is produced by 1895 Films for National Geographic Documentary Films. For 1895 Films, Jennings is executive producer and director. For National Geographic Documentary Films, Bernadette McDaid is executive producer and commissioning editor and Hamish Mykura is executive vice president of programming and development.
In addition to APOLLO: MISSIONS TO THE MOON headlining National Geographic’s Space Week, which has encore presentations Thursday, July 11, at 8/7c, and at 11/10c, the special weeklong programming block will feature the following:
Explorer: Journey to Europa
Monday, July 8, at 8/7c
Europa — an icy moon of Jupiter 485 million miles away from Earth — may be our best hope for finding alien life in our solar system. Today, an innovative class of explorers and scientists is planning a trip to Europa to answer the question — could there be life?
The Armstrong Tapes
Monday, July 8, at 9/8c
Repeats Monday, July 8, at 11/10c and Thursday, July 11, at 10/9c
This one-hour documentary provides a personal and in-depth look at Neil Armstrong, the first man on the moon. Armstrong’s sole authorized biographer, family members and colleagues sit down with National Geographic to reveal an intimate look at one of the world’s greatest and least-known heroes.
Challenger Disaster: The Final Mission
Monday, July 8, at 10/9c
The film follows the tragic story of the historic space shuttle Challenger and its crew. The events of the days leading up to the disaster are detailed using no narration or new interviews; instead, the story is told through journalists’ reports, rarely seen images, extensive recordings from NASA and interviews with those who were part of the one-of-a-kind mission.
Mars: Inside SpaceX
Tuesday, July 9, at 8/7c
The special goes inside SpaceX’s plan to get humanity to Mars and provides an unprecedented glimpse into one of the world’s most revolutionary companies. Taking us behind the scenes with Elon Musk and his engineers, we get an inside look as they persevere amid both disheartening setbacks and huge triumphs.
Apollo: Back to the Moon
Tuesday, July 9, at 9/8c
Repeats Tuesday, July 9, at 10/9c, 11/10c and 12/11c
Using a fresh perspective and driven by the production processes and techniques that have evolved rapidly, this documentary describes the epic adventure to the moon. This immersive account details the journey of those who contributed to the Apollo 11 mission.
Hubble’s Amazing Journey
Wednesday, July 10, at 8/7c
Repeats Wednesday, July 10, at 11/10c
For more than 25 years the Hubble Space Telescope has told us about the creation of stars and planets, the glory of supernovas and the formation of supermassive black holes. It has changed forever our understanding of reality itself. In this updated version, we reveal some of Hubble’s latest observations: exoplanets, astrophysical jets and the bubble nebula.
Mission Pluto and Beyond
Wednesday, July 10, at 9/8c
With unprecedented access to NASA’s spacecraft New Horizons team, this landmark film takes viewers inside the daring mission of reaching the last great uncharted realm of our solar system — Pluto.
Mission Saturn: Inside the Rings
Wednesday, July 10, at 10/9c
This one-hour special gives viewers an incredible look at the planet and an inside examination of the team that dreamed to explore it. The robotic spacecraft Cassini dives into Saturn’s atmosphere and attempts to survive its elements as it descends into the planet. After a valiant three and a half hours, Cassini sends its final signal.
National Geographic Magazine
The July issue of National Geographic magazine looks at the history and future of space exploration, including original photography and extensive graphics. The issue features an up-to-date lunar map, following in the tradition of the iconic 1969 version that, at the time, was the first of its kind. The map is based on some 15,000 images and height data from NASA’s Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter, which has surveyed the entire lunar surface. Look out for the July issue online at natgeo.com/starstruck beginning June 13 and on print newsstands on June 25th.
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About National Geographic Documentary Films
National Geographic Partners LLC (NGP), a joint venture between the National Geographic Society and Disney, is committed to bringing the world premium science, adventure and exploration content across an unrivaled portfolio of media assets. NGP combines the global National Geographic television channels (National Geographic Channel, Nat Geo WILD, Nat Geo MUNDO, Nat Geo PEOPLE) with National Geographic’s media and consumer-oriented assets, including National Geographic magazines; National Geographic studios; related digital and social media platforms; books; maps; children’s media; and ancillary activities that include travel, global experiences and events, archival sales, licensing and e-commerce businesses. Furthering knowledge and understanding of our world has been the core purpose of National Geographic for 131 years, and now we are committed to going deeper, pushing boundaries, going further for our consumers … and reaching millions of people around the world in 172 countries and 43 languages every month as we do it. NGP returns 27 percent of our proceeds to the nonprofit National Geographic Society to fund work in the areas of science, exploration, conservation and education. For more information visit natgeotv.com or nationalgeographic.com, or find us on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Google+, YouTube, LinkedIn and Pinterest.
About 1895 Films
1895 Films is a Peabody Award-winning, Emmy-nominated documentary production company based in Los Angeles, California. Headed by journalist-turned-filmmaker Tom Jennings, 1895 Films specializes in creating and producing high-quality documentary programming for most of the major television cable networks. The company’s films feature dynamic storytelling on topics ranging from politics and religion to history, crime, sports, mystery and travel. 1895 has produced documentary films around the globe, from major world capitals to some of the most remote places on earth — always s looking for new ways to tell stories that are both informative and entertaining.
Jennifer Driscoll, 212-656-0707, Jennifer.Driscoll@natgeo.com
Tahli Kouperstein, 202-912-6543, Tahli.Kouperstein@natgeo.com