Fifty years ago today — July 16, 1969 — the astronauts of the Apollo 11 mission rocketed into space toward the moon, where four days later they would land, accomplishing one of the greatest feats in human history.
In observance of this momentous achievement, the Louisiana Art & Science Museum is showing "Apollo 11: First Steps Edition," a documentary that captures the mission's moon landing in exquisite detail.
Crafted from a trove of never-before-seen footage and more than 11,000 hours of uncatalogued audio recordings, the film puts audiences at the center of NASA’s historic lunar landing.
On July 20, the day Neil Armstrong became the first man to touch the surface of the moon, the museum will host "One Giant Leap for Mankind."
This day of celebration will feature special planetarium shows, including the documentary, from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.; hands-on activities in the Bert S. Turner Atrium from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.; a special display on the moon landing in the Science Station, and authentic lunar samples.
Director Todd Douglas Miller and his team crafted "Apollo 11: First Steps Edition" entirely from archival materials.
As the team was working closely with NASA and the National Archives to locate all existing Apollo 11 footage, NASA staff members made a startling discovery that changed the course of the project: an unprocessed collection of 70 mm large format footage, containing stunning shots of the launch, the inside of Mission Control, and recovery and post-mission activities.
The other unexpected find was a massive cache of 11,000 hours of audio recordings that captured individual tracks from 60 key mission personnel throughout the mission.
"This show is so unique because it will present to many a new perspective of this iconic historical moment,” said Sheree Westerhaus, LASM director of operations and planetarium. “Many who saw it live on TV as small children only saw a few minutes of grainy footage; many others have only read about it.
"'Apollo 11: First Steps Edition' made me feel like I was watching the entire mission live for the first time," she added. "It clearly demonstrates that this mission was a massive undertaking with thousands of people from many disciplines working together to accomplish it. Most importantly, it reminds us of the impact this achievement has had on our world, and, hopefully, pushes us to aim even higher."
To learn more about Apollo 11 and other programs at the Irene W. Pennington Planetarium, visit lasm.org/planetarium.