(People watching Apollo 13 take off; Apollo 13; mission control room)
Mr. LOVELL: (Apollo 13 transmission) It’s a gas of some sort.
In August 1968, NASA made a bold decision: in just sixteen weeks, the United States would launch humankind's first flight to the moon. Only the year before, three astronauts had burned to death in their spacecraft, and since then the Apollo program had suffered one setback after another. Meanwhile, the Russians were winning the space race, the Cold War was getting hotter by the month, and President Kennedy's promise to put a man on the moon by the end of the decade seemed sure to be broken. But when Frank Borman, Jim Lovell and Bill Anders were summoned to a secret meeting and told of the dangerous mission, they instantly signed on.
Written with all the color and verve of the best narrative non-fiction, takes us from Mission Control to the astronaut's homes, from the test labs to the launch pad. The race to prepare an untested rocket for an unprecedented journey paves the way for the hair-raising trip to the moon. Then, on Christmas Day, a nation that has suffered a horrendous year of assassinations and war is heartened by an inspiring message from the trio of astronauts in lunar orbit. And when the mission is over - after the first view of the far side of the moon, the first earth-rise, and the first re-entry through the earth's atmosphere following a flight to deep space - the impossible dream of walking on the moon suddenly seems within reach.
The full story of Apollo 8 has never been told, and only Jeffrey Kluger - Jim Lovell's co-author on their bestselling book about Apollo 13 - can do it justice. Here is the tale of a mission that was both a calculated risk and a wild crapshoot, a stirring account of how three American heroes forever changed our view of the home planet.
(Animation of spacecraft returning to Earth; video from Apollo 13)
Mr. LOVELL: As a matter of fact, before we took off I think the only mention of Apollo 13 in The New York Times was on the weather page about 97 pages in.
With Tom Hanks, Bill Paxton, Kevin Bacon, Gary Sinise
LAUER: (Voiceover) On April 11th, 1970, two hours and 35 minutes after liftoff, Apollo 13 fired its rockets, accelerated to 24,000 miles an hour and left Earth’s orbit bound for the moon.
Project Apollo Drawings and Technical Diagrams
LAUER: (Voiceover) Apollo 13 would bring back rock and soil samples from a hilly region of the moon, a much trickier landing site than those of previous missions. Lovell’s fellow astronauts, Jack Swigert and Fred Haise, were both on their first space flight.
Apollo 13 (1995) - Trivia - IMDb
LAUER: (Voiceover) But here are the facts of Apollo 13. To this day, 40 years later, no human beings have ever ventured farther from home. And to this day no astronauts have overcome so many disasters, large and small, to make it back alive.