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The Race to the Moon (History Channel)

4.7 out of 5 stars 21 customer reviews

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(May 25, 2004)
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Editorial Reviews

Product Description

This History Channel production brings you actual NASA footage revealing every step of each Apollo space mission. It's all here in breathtaking cinematography-from the first Apollo space mission to the historic moon landing to the tense moments encountered by the crew of Apollo 13 . 2 DVDs. 2004/color-b&w/5 hrs/NR/fullscreen.

From the Back Cover

On July 20, 1969, Neil Armstrong took man's first steps on the moon. Roughly one billion awestruck people watched the lunar landing on television, but very few realized how close it came to disaster.

THE RACE TO THE MOON combines top programming from A&E and THE HISTORY CHANNEL. to deliver the ultimate 35th anniversary celebration of this world-changing event. Experience the ultimate insider's view of the Apollo space program by the man who served as NASA's primary flight director for over 30 years and examine recently declassified documents revealing NASA's plans to send men to Saturn by 1970. Take a nostalgic trip with Mike Wallace back to the early days of the space program, and return to the present-day triumphs and tragedies of one of our greatest technological achievements--the Space Shuttle. This 2-volume DVD set features the following programs:

Failure Is Not An Option: Retired NASA Flight Director Gene Kranz recalls the "whiz kid" atmosphere of the space program's early days and the exploits of the astronauts who took our dreams to the moon.
Modern Marvels: Apollo 13: An unexpected disaster leaves the crew of Apollo 13 lost in space. In many ways, this failed moon mission is one of NASA's finest moments.
History Undercover: Code Name: Project Orion: Explore the grand dreams of the top-secret US space program in the 1950s. Renowned physicists like Freeman Dyson discuss visions of battleship-sized rockets and spaceships hitched to comets.
Modern Marvels: The Space Shuttle: The complete story of the shuttle, from its conception in the 1950s to its triumphant launch in 1981. Plus, an exclusive peek at the next-generation space shuttle, the futuristic X-33.

Special Features

  • Four programs: Failure Is Not an Option, Code Name: Project Orion, Modern Marvels: Apollo 13, Modern Marvels: The Space Shuttle
  • Commentary by NASA Mission Control flight director Gene Kranz, writer-producer-codirector Rushmore DeNooyer, and editor-coproducer Tony Bacon on Failure Is Not an Option
  • Photo gallery

Product Details

  • Format: Multiple Formats, Color, NTSC
  • Language: English
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Number of discs: 2
  • Rated: NR (Not Rated)
  • Studio: A&E Home Video
  • DVD Release Date: May 25, 2004
  • Run Time: 232 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (21 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B0001XARMC
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #96,296 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Verified Purchase
As I write this it is the 36th anniversary of Armstrong and Aldrin's moonwalk. In honor of that I thought it would be a good time to review this fine DVD set from the History Channel. This set is really a conglomeration of four separate programs on space, but one of them shines above all the rest. There are programs on Project Orion and the Space Shuttle, which I found to be modestly interesting, a quite good special on Apollo 13 (from the "Modern Marvels" series), and the absolutely thrilling view of the Apollo program through the eyes of Flight Control legend Gene Kranz, "Failure is not an Option." If you haven't read the book of the same title by Kranz, by all means purchase it immediately; your next order of business should then be to watch this documentary.

Much of the documentary footage has been seen before, but the interview footage of Kranz and others involved in Apollo is extremely well done and is frequently more emotional than might be expected (especially when discussing Apollo 1 and Apollo 13.) The Apollo 11 landing (program alarm) drama is told better here than anywhere else I have ever seen, and really underscores the value of the training program NASA had in place for Apollo (especially the simulator training.)

There is no doubt that the Kranz piece is the reason to buy this set, though the rest of the material is also interesting. If you have any interest in manned spaceflight whatsoever, you will love this set, especially "Failure is not an Option."
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For anyone who is interested in learning more about the space program you can't go wrong with this 2 DVD set. There are 4 programs on this DVD. "Failure is not an Option"-a wonderful documentary from the perspective of those great engineers who worked in mission control during the sixties and seventies..It's fascinating listening to their stories and seeing the history of the space program through their eyes! Tons of great historical footage! The Space Shuttle, Apollo 13 and Project Orion are the other 3 programs. Project Orion is a documentary about a group of scientists back in the early sixties who had a idea about flying to Saturn by 1970..It's interesting listening to their theories..However, the program that best illustrates the space program in my opinion is "Failure is not an Option"..It's a wonderfully moving documentary and gives you a great deal of insight into Project Mercury, the Gemini program and the Apollo space program to the moon..It's very comprehensive and has great historical footage! Gene Kranz is interviewed quite a bit during this documentary and it's quite interesting listening to his viewpoint..It's amazing how much these engineers on the ground did..they were brains of the program..they had to know how to troubleshoot whatever problems arose and they were tested quite often! This is a well thought out and historically accurate depiction of the space race...Highly recommended!
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First off let me say that the price is extremely low considering that the History Channel and A&E sells their videos at ridiculously high prices. Failure is not an Option is the whole reason that I bought it 'cuz I loved it so much when it was on TV. It's very different from other spaceflight documentaries in the sense that it relates the stories of the flights through the flight controllers on the ground and the drama they went through. I really recommend listening to the commentary track as well because it is just as informative as the regular program. Apollo 13 was equally good and is very distinct and clear about what happened - something alot of other documentaries do not do. Project Orion was almost too ambitious to be real (for example, humans traveling to the outer planets) and interesting simply because of how ludicris the whole idea is. I am not really into the space shuttle that much so that program was just alright and average. If you like this I highly recommend Nova's "To the Moon" or the PBS mini-series "Spaceflight" (currently only on VHS) and the movies "Apollo 13" and "The Right Stuff."
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If this collection just contained "Failure Is Not An Option," I would unhesitatingly give it five stars. Gene Kranz's personal retelling of the space race provides enthralling insight into what went on behind the scenes, what life was like in Mission Control, and how decisions were made.

Unfortunately, the remaining items in the set aren't of the same caliber. "Project Orion" is decent coverage of a bizarre effort to use exploding atomic bombs to propel spacecraft. "Space Shuttle" is nothing special, and if you want to see a good documentary about "Apollo 13", get PBS's "Apollo 13: To the Edge and Back", not this one.

That being said, "Failure" is worth the price of the set all by itself. I highly recommend it for anyone interested in how we got men to the Moon.
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"MOCR" is an acronym for Mission Operations Control Room and the 90 minute segment, "Failure Is Not An Option", is mainly about the people that worked behind the scenes in Mission Control.

Other than the dozens of Astronauts themselves, these men were working as a highly motivated team in Mission Control, as the NASA brain trust that made President Kennedy's vision to land a man on the Moon an astonishing reality.

I can't get enough of this kind of memorabilia from the space race era, and there are several excellent videos on this subject, but this one tells the story from the perspective of the Flight Director in Mission Control. The manned spacecraft flight controllers - all now long since retired NASA Engineers -guided the Astronauts 24/7 during the trials and tribulations of every mission, from Project Mercury to Apollo. These are the men featured individually and collectively in this DVD.

Their enthusiasium and sometimes apprehensions too, coupled with many emotional highs and lows, during those hectic space race years, are all well presented in this documentary; Gene Krantz, perhaps more well known if not leading Flight Director, most of all. Chris Kraft - Mr. Krantz's mentor - is also featured as quite instrumental in setting up a phenomenally bright group of often nerdish looking (personified by pocket protector wearing, slide rule touting and surprisingly young) Engineers.

All these MOCR Engineers with such specialty positions as EECON, FIDO, GNC, and the like, also clearly had the makings of the "right stuff". When this DVD was produced, these men, all in their late 60s or 70s, were extensively interviewed throughout the video.
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