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Arts & Culture

NOVA: Apollo's Daring Mission

(13 Nov. 1968) Crew of the Apollo 8 lunar orbit mission. Left to right, are James A. Lovell Jr., command module pilot; William A. Anders, lunar module pilot; and Frank Borman, commander. They are standing beside the Apollo Mission Simulator at the Kennedy Space Center (KSC).
Courtesy of NASA
(13 Nov. 1968) Crew of the Apollo 8 lunar orbit mission. Left to right, are James A. Lovell Jr., command module pilot; William A. Anders, lunar module pilot; and Frank Borman, commander. They are standing beside the Apollo Mission Simulator at the Kennedy Space Center (KSC).

Airs Tuesday, July 16, 2019 at 10 p.m. on KPBS TV

On this episode of NOVA, Apollo astronauts and engineers tell the inside story of Apollo 8, the first manned mission to the moon.

The U.S. space program suffered a bitter setback when Apollo 1 ended in a deadly fire during a pre-launch run-through.

View of Firing Room at Kennedy Space center during Apollo missions. (undated photo)
Courtesy of NASA
View of Firing Room at Kennedy Space center during Apollo missions. (undated photo)

In disarray, and threatened by the prospect of a Soviet Union victory in the space race, NASA decided upon a radical and risky change of plan: turn Apollo 8 from an earth-orbit mission into a daring sprint to the moon while relying on untried new technologies.

Suddenly everything hinged on Apollo 8.

Fifty years after the historic mission, the Apollo 8 astronauts and engineers recount the feats of engineering that paved the way to the moon.

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