A guide to TV specials marking Apollo 11’s 50th anniversary

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The year 2019 has, and will continue to be, one of celebrating anniversaries — including the 50th anniversary of Apollo 11, which launched astronauts Neil Armstrong, Edwin “Buzz” Aldrin and Michael Collins to the Moon.

On July 20, 1969, Armstrong became the first man in history to set foot on the moon in, as he so famously put it, “one giant leap for mankind.” He was followed minutes later by Aldrin, as Collins orbited overhead.


Here’s a handy guide to the many television specials that will celebrate one of the mankind’s greatest achievements.

Sunday, July 7

“The Day We Walked on the Moon”

7 p.m., Smithsonian Channel

This documentary tracks the Apollo 11 mission from its liftoff at Cape Kennedy on July 16, 1969, to the moon landing four days later. Includes remastered footage and interviews going behind the scenes and inside the spacecraft, at Mission Control and at the homes of the astronauts’ families.

Monday, July 8

“The Armstrong Tapes”

9 p.m. on National Geographic

A one-hour documentary about Armstrong including interviews with his only authorized biographer, family, friends and archival audio interviews with Armstrong himself.

“American Experience: Chasing the Moon”

9 p.m. on PBS

A film by Robert Stone that uses previously overlooked and lost archival material to tell the story of how the US raced the clock to land a man on the moon by 1969 amidst the backdrop of politics, science and media spectacle.

Wednesday, July 10, and Sunday, July 14

“Moon Landing: The Lost Tapes”

10 p.m., History Channel

Contains newly uncovered footage, rare photographs and previously untelevised audio interviews with the Apollo 11 astronauts and the men manning the consoles at Mission Control in Houston.

Thursday, July 17

“8 Days: To the Moon and Back”

9 p.m., PBS

A documentary blending mission audio featuring conversations among the Apollo 11 astronauts with new footage, NASA archival footage and CGI to recreate the first moon landing.

Saturday, July 20

“NASA’s Giant Leaps: Past and Future”

1-3 p.m., Science Channel

Tied to the 50th anniversary of the Apollo 11 moon landing, this live special will focus on NASA’s past and its missions to return to the moon. Will air from various locations around the US, including Kennedy Space Center Visitor’s Complex’s Apollo/Saturn V center, the National Mall in Washington, DC, and Neil Armstrong’s hometown in Ohio.

Apollo 11 astronauts Edwin Aldrin (from far left), Michael Collins and Neil Armstrong on their way to the spacecraft on July 16, 1969.
Apollo 11 astronauts Edwin Aldrin (from far left), Michael Collins and Neil Armstrong on their way to the spacecraft on July 16, 1969.PBS/Courtesy of NASA

“Apollo: The Forgotten Films”

8 p.m., Discovery

Features never-before-seen footage, in addition and archival material that tells the story of the engineers, scientists and astronauts worked to get a man on the moon. Includes footage from NASA Research Centers, The National Archives and news reports of the time.

“Moon Landing Live”

9 p.m., BBC America

Documentary featuring high-quality NASA footage, extensive news broadcasts and live news footage from every corner of the globe to recreate the excitement and elation that surrounded the event.

“Confessions from Space: Apollo”

10 p.m., Discovery

This event, hosted by The Explorers Club, features six Apollo astronauts — including Buzz Aldrin, Michael Collins and Charlie Duke — sharing insights, experiences and stories of their missions.



By Michael Starr

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