The Race to the Moon
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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.
- 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
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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."
I have the original series on VHS (recorded from the H channel) which I was looking to replace with the DVD set. The quality of the program itself is outstanding and well worth repeated views (that's why I wanted it on DVD...); I was just disappointed that Part 2 has to be bought separately.
As for the features on Disc 2, they're interesting enough and certainly worth watching, but not up to the same level as the "Failure" feature. I also find it odd that there's a commentary track *for a documentary* which seems unusual. To me, it would have made more sense to package Parts 1 & 2 together, instead of Part 1 with a series of 3 only semi-related extra features. Nonetheless, good quality programming that tells the story of the US space program mainly from the perspective of the engineers and flight controllers (as opposed to the equally-good "Moonshot" that is told more from the Astronaut's perspective). Enjoy!
The second DVD contained 3 features, CODE NAME:PROJECT ORION, Apollo 13, and The Space Shuttle. These features were not handled as well as the first DVD topic but were still of interest. I especially enjoyed Project Orion which treated the early efforts to harness fission bombs to propell a hugh manned spacecraft. This project was cancelled but remains an interesting topic in space history. (3 stars)
These materials scored an overall 4 star average with this space fan.
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. By today's standards, back in the late 60s, they were NASA's not-so-well-paid brightest spaceflight experts who literally wrote the book on how to get a rocket ship to the Moon. They planned, calculated, simulated, training step by step, right alongside the astronauts until the job was done. The men behind the dazzling lights and consoles in MOCR had to function under the most stressful, mentally challenging conditions, often making life and death decisions and perform all their jobs as a team absolutely superbly.
This movie is a tribute to these men and all of their extremely hard work and untiring dedication to putting not only one, but 12 different Americans on the Moon. BRAVO to all of these men for a job WELL DONE!
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These videos made me proud of America's achievements in science,intellectual...Read more