For the first time, the American Archive of Public Broadcasting has released rare interviews with the team of astronauts and NASA personnel who brought America to the moon in the 1960s — including one of the first people to walk on the lunar surface.
The newly released footage was filmed during production of the 1998 documentary "To the Moon," which discussed the "space race" between the United States and the Soviet Union that drove the push to land the first humans on the moon. The highlight of the archive is an interview with Buzz Aldrin, who became the second person to walk on the moon 50 years ago this July 20.
The whole archive, which is available at americanarchive.org, includes raw interviews with many key figures from the Apollo program and from the space industry in 1998. From the Apollo program, the archive includes conversations with Jim Lovell (who flew around the moon during Apollo 8 and Apollo 13), Farouk El-Baz (a lunar scientist for the Apollo program) and former NASA Flight Director Gene Kranz.
More-recent key figures interviewed include astrophysicist Robin Canup and astronomer Carolyn Shoemaker, who is best known for co-discovering Comet Shoemaker-Levy 9, which struck Jupiter.
"These interviews feature firsthand perspectives from many of the scientists involved in the Apollo 11 mission, relating the technical, political and emotional intricacies of an epic journey," the American Archive of Public Broadcasting said in a statement. "This collection of videos includes 146 raw, unedited interviews with astronauts, engineers, flight directors, geologists and lunar scientists who were involved in the American effort to win the space race and put humans on the moon for the first time in history."
This archive release comes during the PBS initiative "Summer of Space," which includes several new programs. One of these is "Chasing the Moon," which airs July 8 to July 10 at 9 p.m. EDT nightly. This three-part series draws on archival footage that was mostly unused or forgotten from the last five decades to tell the story of how Apollo 11 happened.
Editor's note: This story has been updated to correctly represent the roles of PBS and the American Archive of Public Broadcasting in the project.
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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