Due to newly discovered NASA footage and 11,000 hours of audio recordings, the world can now see what really happened during the Apollo 11 mission of July 20, 1969 – almost 50 years ago. The documentary “Apollo 11” shows footage that even includes the late Johnny Carson attending the Apollo 11 launch and within a few hours of the launch a leak that required of all things, “bolt tightening”. Almost 50 years later, is unbelievable that any of the Apollo missions, save Apollo 13 that did not make it to the moon – did not include horrendous loss of life that might have included the Astronauts swallowing cyanide tablets because they were stranded on the moon or lost forever in space. The rockets, capsule and lunar module had millions of parts, any one of which could have failed, despite the backups and redundancy. Due to the intense cold, heat or vibrations on takeoff, something might have been missed and a rocket might not work at the exact wrong time or something could have exploded, like it did on Apollo 13. Due to the likelihood that something could have easily gone wrong, the odds of failure especially during the first mission to the moon was extremely high and this is one of the many reasons why everybody involved with the Apollo missions should be greatly admired.
The Astronauts had to be calm at all times, even though their heart rates, especially Neil Armstrong’s showed a high levels of nervousness at key points throughout the mission. All the Astronauts who flew to the moon had to prepare themselves for death, and this required incredible courage from all who went to the moon during the Apollo missions; the last one Apollo 17 on December 7, 1972. There was no way to test for every contingency considering the large number of unknowns of a mission like this. Consider the extreme level of risk with 1969 technology when we now know that 17 years later in 1986 and 34 years later in 2003 the Space Shuttle blew up during launch and re-entry, killing 14 Astronauts.
The United States has never attempted any man missions to the moon since 1972 and this decision had more to do with the extreme cost, than the extreme risk of life. There has been talk of going to the moon again, but considering our National Debt the huge costs, this may never happen. Since Apollo and the end of the Space Shuttle, non government organizations including Blue Origin, owned by Jeff Bezos and Space X, owned by Elon Musk have continued space exploration with large rockets and now NASA only flies robot missions to Mars and the other planets and even uses Russian rockets to send men into space. When necessary NASA uses external non Government companies to get their payloads into space as this is no longer part of what NASA does.
Everybody who witnessed the moon landing in 1969 thought that by now we would be at least landing on Mars, but we are a long way from that happening, for maybe another 20 or 30 years. The entire world still sends satellites, equipment and human beings into space using rockets, that are disposable, and with some exceptions not reusable. I would have thought that by now there would be a working space plane that takes off on its own and is able to get into space without huge and dangerous launch rockets, but it seems that this is another technology that might not see its day for a long time.
This documentary about Apollo 11 is outstanding and has an extremely rare 100% rating on Rotten Tomatoes that I agree with. It is strange to see film from 50 years ago looking like it was created recently due to the restoration technology, also used on the World War I movie “They Shall Not Grow Old”, that has successfully restored film from 100 years ago. I highly recommend Apollo 11 as one of the best documentaries I have ever seen.