'8 Days: To the Moon and Back' Shows Apollo 11 Milestones

Ready to relive the first landing mission on the moon, five decades ago? PBS and BBC Studios will bring viewers through Apollo 11's major milestones in the new film "8 Days: To the Moon and Back."

The movie premieres on PBS today (July 17) at 9 p.m. EDT, three days before the 50th anniversary of the moon landing on July 20. The film includes recently declassified mission audio recordings, new studio footage, a variety of NASA and news archives, and a recreation of the journey using computer-generated imagery.

"With access to previously classified and little-heard, rare audio recordings and using amazing re-enactment and special effects, '8 Days: To the Moon and Back' captures the story of Apollo 11 as it really happened," Bill Margol, PBS' senior director of programming and development, said in a statement. 

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

"From these unique audio recordings, we hear, and now can see, the Apollo 11 crew's real fears and excitement from within the spacecraft, offering an intimate look into the breathtaking and awe-inspiring journey of the most important and celebrated mission ever flown," he said.

Actors participating in the reenactments include Rufus Wright ("Rogue One: A Star Wars Story") as commander Neil Armstrong, Jack Tarlton ("The Imitation Game") as lunar module pilot Buzz Aldrin, and Patrick Kennedy ("Mrs. Wilson" and "Downton Abbey") as command module pilot Michael Collins.

"For the first time, this film takes audiences inside the mission to experience the actual journey of those three astronauts in the most intimate and spectacular of fashions," Andrew Cohen, BBC Studios executive producer and head of science, said in the same statement. "This is the ultimate documentary of the moon shot; it's as if we've gone back 50 years and made the film we'd always dreamt of."

The new film is part of PBS' "Summer of Space" multiplatform experience, which includes programming on PBS stations, PBS.org and the PBS video app for mobile and other platforms.

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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 Space.com 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: https://qoto.org/@howellspace