Nat Geo Highlights 'Golden Age of Space' with Rare Footage of NASA's Apollo Moon Missions

Poster for "Apollo: Missions to the Moon"
Poster for "Apollo: Missions to the Moon" (Image credit: National Geographic)

A 2-hour feature documentary on National Geographic will focus on the 50th anniversary of the first human moon landing, which the channel calls the "golden age of space." 

"Apollo: Missions to the Moon" includes a narrative weaved from more than 1,300 hours of footage and audio and 10,000 photos. Much of this information is rare or newly transferred, National Geographic said. The documentary by Tom Jennings, an Emmy- and Peabody Award-winning filmmaker,  will premiere July 7 at 9 p.m. Eastern (8 p.m. Central) on the National Geographic Channel.

"The film includes several firsts, including the combination of NASA footage with 'black-box' recordings from Apollo capsules, and the synchronization of 30-track audio from mission control," National Geographic representatives said in a statement.

Related: Apollo 11 at 50: A Complete Guide to the Historic Moon Landing Mission 

Audiences will see the Apollo program's history starting with the Apollo 1 fatal fire in 1967, the first crewed mission of Apollo 7, and then the practice missions (near the Earth and near the moon) leading up to the moon landing of Apollo 11. Then the documentary brings viewers through the last six moonbound missions (five landings and the fateful Apollo 13, which aborted and returned to Earth) before Apollo 17 lifted off for the last time in 1972.

"Apollo: Missions to the Moon" kicks off an entire "Space Week" of documentaries on National Geographic. Some of these shows will run multiple times; below are the dates each show will air that week, or air for the first time.

  • "Explorer: Journey to Europa" (July 8, 8 p.m. EDTEastern/7 p.m. CDT)
  • "The Armstrong Tapes" (July 8, 9 p.m. EDT/8 p.m. CDT)
  • "Challenger Disaster: The Final Mission" (July 8, 10 p.m. EDT/9 p.m. CDT)
  • "Mars: Inside SpaceX" (July 9, 8 p.m. EDT/7 p.m. CDT)
  • "Apollo: Back to the Moon" (July 9, 9 p.m. EDT/8 p.m. CDT)
  • "Hubble's Amazing Journey" (July 10, 8 p.m. EDT/7 p.m. CDT)
  • "Mission Pluto and Beyond" (July 10, 9 p.m. EDT/8 p.m. CDT) 
  • "Mission Saturn: Inside the Rings" (July 10, 10 p.m. EDT/9 p.m. CDT)

"'Apollo: Missions to the Moon' unveils what was happening not only on the ground at mission control but also in the homes of the families and friends who stood by as their loved ones took to the skies,” Jennings said in the statement. "The whole world stopped for a moment to rejoice and take pride in the boundless sense of courage and optimism that Apollo made possible."

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Elizabeth Howell
Staff Writer, Spaceflight

Elizabeth Howell (she/her), Ph.D., is a staff writer in the spaceflight channel since 2022 covering diversity, education and gaming as well. She was contributing writer for for 10 years before joining full-time. Elizabeth's reporting includes multiple exclusives with the White House and Office of the Vice-President of the United States, an exclusive conversation with aspiring space tourist (and NSYNC bassist) Lance Bass, speaking several times with the International Space Station, witnessing five human spaceflight launches on two continents, flying parabolic, working inside a spacesuit, and participating in a simulated Mars mission. Her latest book, "Why Am I Taller?", is co-written with astronaut Dave Williams. Elizabeth holds a Ph.D. and M.Sc. in Space Studies from the University of North Dakota, a Bachelor of Journalism from Canada's Carleton University and a Bachelor of History from Canada's Athabasca University. Elizabeth is also a post-secondary instructor in communications and science at several institutions since 2015; her experience includes developing and teaching an astronomy course at Canada's Algonquin College (with Indigenous content as well) to more than 1,000 students since 2020. Elizabeth first got interested in space after watching the movie Apollo 13 in 1996, and still wants to be an astronaut someday. Mastodon: