The world was watching a grainy TV signal July 20, 1969, when Neil Armstrong became the first person to set foot on the moon, declaring, “That’s one small step for a man, one giant leap for mankind.”
Audiences can relive one of humanity’s greatest achievements when “Apollo 11: First Steps Edition” launches at the Tennessee Aquarium IMAX Theater on Friday, June 14. The film is a giant-screen version of Todd Douglas Miller’s acclaimed theatrical documentary, “Apollo 11.”
The project began with the discovery of a trove of never-before-seen 70-millimeter footage and 11,000 hours of uncatalogued audio recordings from the Apollo 11 astronauts and 60 key NASA personnel captured during every moment of the historic voyage.
Miller’s team spent more than half a year painstakingly reviewing the materials and piecing together the entire nine-day Apollo mission. They were able to distill this into a 47-minute film that aspires to make viewers feel as though they are witnessing the events for the first time.
“We realized no one but the people at Mission Control had seen what we were seeing, and we were seeing it 50 years later,” Miller says. “In some cases, iconic images from the mission were familiar to us, but we had only ever seen them on 35-millimeter footage.
“Standing there, seeing the footage for the first time, was like a religious experience. We were speechless.”
Dr. June Scobee Rodgers, founding chairman of the Challenger Center for Space Science Education, recalls the thrill of that night. “When it was time for them to step out onto the moon, I woke my children up. We sat down in front of the TV and cheered. It was spectacular to see.”
Rodgers will be the featured speaker for the launch of “Apollo 11: First Steps Edition” at the Tennessee Aquarium IMAX Theater. She will provide insights on the U.S. space program and discuss her work promoting STEM studies through the global network of Challenger Centers.
The excitement of the 50th anniversary of the Apollo 11 mission comes at a time when more career opportunities in space exploration are beginning to emerge, says the film’s historical consultant, Robert Pearlman.
“There are companies building rockets that will take private citizens to the moon,” Pearlman says. “Later this year, the first Israeli moon lander will be launched from Kennedy Space Center, so we’re having a lunar renaissance.
“Meanwhile, NASA is looking to send astronauts back to lunar orbit with the intention of pushing on to Mars. After 50 years, we’re at a new crossroads.”
Source: Tennessee Aquarium