Fifty years ago today, Apollo 17 launched, carrying the last two humans to walk on the moon, Gene Cernan and Jack Schmitt.
I was seven years old when the Apollo 11 astronauts, Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin, walked on the moon, the first humans to ever do so. I was ten years old when the Apollo 17 astronauts walked on the moon.
That’s an impressionable age. My impression was that humans walked on the moon every once in a while. If you had asked me in 1972 if I thought people would be on the moon again before I turned 60, I would have been 100% certain that they would. My inner ten-year-old is startled every time she remembers that it’s been fifty years.
To honor the occasion, we watched From the Earth to the Moon, a 1998 HBO miniseries. I checked the disk set out of our local library. It’s available to stream from HBO Max or from Amazon (for a fee).
From the Earth to the Moon starts the story before the first Apollo mission with one episode that quickly takes us through the Mercury and Gemini programs. Episode two is about the ill-fated Apollo 1 mission.
After the first couple of episodes, which are pretty straightforward and chronological, the series starts to play with the structure of things. Some of the story-telling mechanisms were more effective than others.
I didn’t like the one where we followed a camera crew while they followed the astronauts. I felt like the audience was kept an arm-length away from the story.
I got a kick out of the account of Apollo 12 told by the youngest astronaut on the crew, Alan Bean — it was funny but pretty corny, too.
My favorite episode was Part 10 showing how an engaging professor, Lee Silver, turned pilots into geologists, enabling them to find and bring back the Genesis Rock.
From the Earth to the Moon allowed us to rekindle our memories and taught us the things we never knew. We liked to keep Wikipedia open on our phones so that we could look up more details and answer questions.
What are your memories of the Apollo program?