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Moon Machines

4.8 out of 5 stars 50 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

The right tools for the job... The U.S. Moon missions would never have gotten 10 feet off the ground without the pioneering engineers and manufacturers and the amazing machines they created to turn science fiction into history-making headlines. From nuts and bolts to rockets and life support systems, every piece of gear was custom made from scratch to perform cutting-edge scientific tasks while withstanding the violent rigors of space travel. Now here's your chance to climb aboard the capsule, put on a spacesuit and learn the real stories behind the right stuff.

Saturn V: October 4th 1957, and the Russians take a huge leap forward in rocketry when they successfully launch Sputnik 1 - the world's first artificial satellite. Over the coming years the Soviets would continue to astound the world with their space achievements. America needs to respond - and quick! Command Module: We recount the story of the engineers who built the Apollo Command Module, a fully pressurised living space that would need to provide three men with food, water, air, power, communication, navigation and above all protection, to the moon and back.

Navigation: We tell the story of how a group of computer scientists grappled with the challenge of navigation of a round trip to the Moon back in the days when computer code and software hadn't been invented and computing power was a fraction of what it is today.

Lunar Module: The story of the engineers challenged with building what became affectionately called the Lunar Bug. A constant battle to meet the seemingly impossible demands of weight restrictions, the Lunar Module was one of the greatest engineering feats in history.

Suits: To survive outside of a spacecraft, an new space vehicle would be required - the spacesuit. Flexible enough to allow man to function, yet provide protection from the hostility of space. Two unlikely companies from the east coast took the challenge. Lunar Rover: In the final film in the series we reveal the untold story of how a very small group of engineers wont take no for an answer and convinces NASA to build what ultimately became the Lunar Rover. As with all the engineering during the Apollo program, the Lunar Rover - a spacecraft on wheels.


Special Features

None.

Product Details

  • Actors: Robert Seamans, Bill Stoney, Sonny Morea, Cliff Hess
  • Directors: Christopher Riley, Nick Davidson
  • Writers: Sara Kenney
  • Format: Multiple Formats, AC-3, Color, Dolby, NTSC, Widescreen
  • Language: English
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated:
    NR
    Not Rated
  • Studio: Discovery - Gaiam
  • DVD Release Date: July 7, 2009
  • Run Time: 265 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (50 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B0026IQTR2
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #36,857 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "Moon Machines" on IMDb

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By David J. Delaurant on June 22, 2009
Format: DVD Verified Purchase
To date, this short series is the best work yet produced by the Science Channel.

Unlike most programs dealing with space flight, this series is about engineers rather than astronauts. Seeing the cleverness that went into the different elements of Apollo should make you proud of your species.

The producers interviewed many of the surviving project directors and engineering team leaders, including then-and-now photos, a nice touch! Specific problems and their eventual solutions are described using language suited to a general audience, yet not insulting to their intelligence. Even the musical score is noteworthy.

For me, the episode on the lunar rover is easily worth the cover price by itself, but the lunar suit comes a very close second.
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What makes this collection of documentaries so fascinating and wonderful is firstly they focus on the technical side of the greatest human engineering feat ever achieved, secondly the stories are told by the engineers who were actually involved.
Each episode discusses the designs, trials and tribulations, and final culmination or 'moment of truth' when the system was utilized in the missions. The engineering detail is very good for a documentary and far better than anything I have seen before. The footage is also very good quality and fascinating.
The best thing however, is the people. In explaining the program they show a great deal of humility, intelligence, sometimes humour, and then there are moments where they explain what the stress, long hours and problem solving was doing to their personal lives, and finally they come to terms with their achievement.
If you are an engineer, scientist, or are of a technical disposition you will find this inspirational. There should be more documentaries like this.
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As one who had the great good fortune to see these magnificent machines in action, I am very glad to see this sory by the men who made them. If you enjoyed "In the Shadow of the Moon" or "From the Earth to the Moon" DVD's you will love this one! This DVD is the perfect complement to "Apollo" by Charles Muray and Catherine Bly Cox.I also highly recommend "Angle of Attack" by Mike Gray that tells the inside story of North American Aviation's incredible problems in developing the second stage of the Saturn V - the incomparable S-II-C. "Apollo" by Murray and Cox was published 20 years ago, and it is a delight and just a superb account of how we went to the Moon in 8 years and 2 months after JFK hurled his challenge to the country and at the Soviets. This incomparable book tells the story through the people that solved unsolvable problems. This DVD actually has them telling the story in their own words. Of particular interest to the connoisseur is the seldom told tale of Apollo 4, and the near-disaster of Apollo . The sleuthing of the problems of Apollo 6 is still a tour de force of root cause analysis. The very next Saturn V that was launched after this near failure went to the Moon carrying Apollo 8. The human stories retold in this DVD make the unbelievable event come alive. For those of you who, alas, did not live through this incredible period - this DVD is a good tase of what it was like.
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Years ago, I heard or read one of the Apollo astronauts deflecting hero worship. I don't remember which astronaut it was, and I certainly don't remember his exact words, but what he said was essentially this: "I'm just an ordinary man. I can't walk on the moon. But there were thousands of people who designed, built and operated these amazing machines that were capable of carrying human beings to the moon and bringing them back safely, and I was just lucky enough to be one of the guys who got to take that ride."

Though he certainly understates the contribution of the astronauts themselves, he's right about the thousands of people on the ground. This series of six programs looks at the machines and the men and women behind them: the Saturn V rocket, the guidance computers, the command and service module, the lunar module, the lunar rover, and the space suits.

I've been a space nut for a long time, but almost everything here is new to me. The programs are packed with information, from unseen archival film and interviews with the people who did the work. Production values are absolutely first-rate. I've seen a lot of documentaries about Project Apollo, and this is one of the best. I watched it all in a single sitting, and at the end of each episode, I caught myself saying aloud, "This is GREAT!"

I couldn't recommend it more highly.
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What makes this series of documentaries special is that they show the human side of the quest to reach the moon. No astronauts, grizzled flight controllers or pundits here, this series highlights the engineers who sweated the details. Old men now, they look back fondly on an adventure to which they devoted large parts of their lives - with pride, awe, and occasional sadness, especially when they talk about the Apollo 1 fire. Rather than make this a fast-paced, slam-bang effort, the film makers will linger on the face of an interviewee after he finishes a sentence, catching a raised eyebrow or a frown, speaking far more than words themselves. As a space enthusiast, I also appreciated the wealth of behind-the-scenes footage unearthed, and how it's not simply used as generic "b-roll" as other producers have done, i.e. showing the wrong type of rocket during liftoffs or using footage shot out the command module window during re-entry to "illustrate" the Apollo 1 fire.

Could we go to the moon today? Probably not, but this series highlights a time when thinking big and doing big was a national goal, and engineers like those featured here dreamed the dreams (and turned the wrenches) that brought Neil Armstrong to the moon in the now so-long-ago. Marvelous!
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