Of all mankind’s endeavours surely none has been so awe inspiring as our expedition to the Moon. This riveting 4OD documentary, In the Shadow of the Moon, combines archive footage of events with recent interviews of all the surviving Apollo program astronauts.
Politically of course it was all about the Americans beating the Soviets in putting a man on the Moon. The Soviets had taken the lead in the Space Race by first sending Luna 2 to the Moon (1959) and then launching Yuri Gagarin into orbit (1961). Determined to reverse this trend, it was John F. Kennedy’s drive and charisma that sold the American people on this bold adventure. In so doing he challenged America’s scientists, engineers and astronauts to achieve what many people still considered impossible. The men chosen to carry us on what Kennedy described as “the most hazardous, and dangerous, and greatest adventure on which man has ever embarked” were some of the finest pilots in the United States.
Narrowed down by a rigorous selection process, they were highly skilled, physically elite, scientifically astute and supremely confident under pressure, attributes Tom Wolfe would later describe as The Right Stuff.
On 21st July 1969, at the end of a tumultuous decade defined by assassination, war, race riots, civil rights and cultural upheaval, Neil Armstrong captivated the world as he stepped down from Lunar Module Eagle onto the surface of a foreign celestial body for the first time. That he found the most poetic of words to mark the occasion helped bring all of us along with him.
“That’s one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind”
We were now a space faring species and our horizons were broadened further than we could have imagined. For the next 3 years the USA continued to send men to the Moon, until a combination of prohibitive cost, lack of motivation and a cooling of the Cold War focussed NASA’s budget elsewhere. This exhilarating and moving documentary recounts the memories of the only humans to have ever experienced our nearest neighbour’s charms first hand. As you would expect the impact on them as individuals has been profound, just as it has been on mankind as a whole. Enjoy.
In The Shadow of the Moon