Which of us has never heard of Apollo Program? This name, recalling an important Olympian deity in Greek and Roman mythology, is definitely linked to one of the most breath-taking human endeavour to the discovery of the space, promoted by the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA). A series of spaceflight stepping-stones, dating from 1961 to 1972, that changed humankind view of our Planet Earth. As a result of the greatest minds of that time, Apollo programme to reach the Moon, was the strong desire by the iconic American President John Fitzgerald Kennedy in the “golden age” of the Sixties. Some attempts and a great tragedy occurred to Apollo 1 crew (1967), burnt before taking off.
Finally, in December 1968 the entire world experienced the largest media event ever seen via television following the impressive undertaking of Apollo 8, the first crewed spacecraft that orbited a celestial body transmitting unprecedented Christmas wishes from the space. That was the first new-era step for space technologies.
Apollo Lunar Module (LM), within Apollo 11 mission, enthusiastically landed on the moon surface on July the 20th, 1969, thrilling USA and the entire world who was astonished by the memorable shots of the first human footprint on lunar soil appearing on the TV screens. “That’s one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind”, these words pronounced by the astronaut Neil Amstrong have been forever etched in human memory until today, stimulating a long-lasting moon exploration ‘saga’, not free from hurdles like in Apollo 13 mission.
To celebrate the 50th anniversary of the first Moon landing, an extraordinary two-hour documentary has been stimulating and revolutionizing our memory. “Apollo, Missions to the Moon”, a doc movie by Tom Jennings for National Geographic, was unveiled to the public at Grimaldi Forum in world premiere, last Monday the 17th June 2019 within the 59th Monte-Carlo Television Festival in the presence of H.S.H. Prince Albert II of Monaco, Laurent Puons, vice-president of the Festival and distinguished guests, under the auspices of the Embassy of the Principality of Monaco in Washington DC.
A huge narrative plot, skillfully arranged by a team of experts after a twenty-year documentation, showed for the first-time original scenes from NASA Apollo ‘black box’ and thirty Mission Control recordings, including references to international journalistic reporting as well as curious footages and headlines about astronauts involved in the American programme and their families & friends with no use of modern reconstructions or actors. A set of media items resulting from checking more than 1,300 hours of motion pictures and sound tracks in addition to 10,000 photos. Its intensity unleashed strong emotions among the Monegasque audience plunging them into a glorious past which is marking the present.
“You can’t go forward without looking back to the past”, pointed out Tom Jennings, the Emmy & Peabody award-winning filmmaker, during the live debate just after the public ovation at the end of the screening. The opening scenes with Walt Disney’s 1967 far-future theme park, Tomorrowland, recreating aero spatial simulations as key attractions, reminded us the sense of wonder that affected the whole planet during Apollo missions. As witnessed by a lady’s intervention from the seats, the first lunar adventures were able to unify for a while the entire Planet in one explosion of joy and proudness.
Watching this documentary moved me because when those facts were happening I was just a child, dreaming of my future, and it is amazing to see how spatial science evolved”, stressed Jean–François Clervoy, NASA and French Space Agency astronaut. “What those people did in Apollo missions is speechless”, emphasized Captain Michael López–Alegría, NASA astronaut and Commander at International Space Station (ISS). “I think this movie is such a special outcome and it is so profound to have this experience conveyed by those extraordinary footages that work in a very big way by taking us in that very moment, so meaningful…” – marked Rory Kennedy, president of the Monte-Carlo TV Festival News Jury and Academy Award nominated filmmaker. She was clearly excited, considering that Apollo missions were launched by her uncle John Kennedy.
The communication ability, supported by the use of new Media and Social Media, is being massively motivating people in space undertakings as highlighted by Captain López–Alegría. Consequently, more and more artists, musicians and experts in different fields are being inspired by space men and space women. But the most important impact that Apollo missions produced on humanity is their power to inspire an entire generation who made a great contribution to scientific development, notably in United States and Western World, as underlined by Captain Clervoy.
“The strong connection to mankind pushes tolerance and reinforces the idea of protecting the environment” – added Captain López–Alegría – “let us think about how the atmosphere is wonderfully protecting our Planet in spite of being as thin as an apple skin”. Discovering the Moon, in fact, made us contemplate Earth from the universe perspective reaffirmed Rory Kennedy. She concluded: “That must engage decision makers and citizens in preserving our Planet, fighting against climate changes and major threats to the Environment”.
“Apollo, missions to the moon” is therefore a precious communication tool that turns History into something alive making us understand the present and the near future. In a few years, some of us will be able to experience weekly-space flights to reach Axiom, the first Commercial Space Station, thanks to an international cooperation with a Monegasque contribution. Are you ready to feel like an astronaut?