'NOVA: Apollo's Daring Mission'
(DVD / G / 2019 / PBS)
Overview: Apollo astronauts and engineers tell the inside story of how the first mission to the moon, Apollo 8, pioneered groundbreaking technologies that would pave the way to land a man on the moon and win the space race.
DVD Verdict: Apollo 8, the second manned spaceflight mission flown in the United States Apollo space program, was launched on December 21st, 1968, and became the first manned spacecraft to leave low Earth orbit, reach the Moon, orbit it, and return.
The three-astronaut crew—Frank Borman, James Lovell, and William Anders—were the first humans to witness and photograph an Earthrise and to escape the gravity of a celestial body.
Originally planned as the second crewed Apollo Lunar Module and command module test, to be flown in an elliptical medium Earth orbit in early 1969, the mission profile was changed in August 1968 to a more ambitious command-module-only lunar orbital flight to be flown in December; as the lunar module was not yet ready to make its first flight.
Astronaut Jim McDivitt's crew, who were training to fly the first lunar module flight in low Earth orbit, became the crew for the Apollo 9 mission, and Borman's crew were moved to the Apollo 8 mission.
This left Borman's crew with two to three months' less training and preparation time than originally planned, and replaced the planned lunar module training with translunar navigation training.
Apollo 8 took 68 hours (almost three days) to travel the distance to the Moon. The crew orbited the Moon ten times over the course of twenty hours, during which they made a Christmas Eve television broadcast in which they read the first ten verses from the Book of Genesis.
The crew members were named Time magazine's "Men of the Year" for 1968 upon their return.
This fascinating recanting of the true story through the eyes and ears of Apollo astronauts and engineers is most definitely one of the most enthralling and heartwarming to come from NOVA in many a year, in my humble opinion. This is a Widescreen Presentation (1.85:1) enhanced for 16x9 TVs.