Mission Control: The Unsung Heroes of Apollo

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NASA and Manned Spacecraft Center (MSC) officials join the flight controllers in celebrating the conclusion of the Apollo 11 mission. (Photo: VCG Wilson/Corbis via Getty Images)
NASA and Manned Spacecraft Center (MSC) officials join the flight controllers in celebrating the conclusion of the Apollo 11 mission. (Photo: VCG Wilson/Corbis via Getty Images)


4/5 Stars


At the heart of the Apollo programme was the special team in Mission Control that put a man on the moon and helped create the future.


The Soviet Union was the first to send an artificial Earth satellite into space. Sputnik 1 was launched on 4 October 1957 and kicked off the worldwide race to get into space.

"After Sputnik's launch, many Americans began to think more seriously about science and technology. Schools added courses on subjects, like chemistry, physics and calculus," reports History.

This led to the birth of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) and the Department of Defence’s Advanced Research Projects Agency (ARPA), which was aimed at developing space-age technologies, such as rockets, weapons, and computers.

On 20 July 1969, Neil Armstrong and Edwin "Buzz" Aldrin from Apollo 11 were the first humans to ever walk on the moon after President John F Kennedy announced in 1961 that America's goal was to perform the first crewed lunar landing and return to Earth. The American president would be assassinated before ever seeing the impossible dream come true.

To date, 12 humans have walked on the moon. Eugene Cernan, the commander of Apollo 17, on 14 December 1972 was the last human to walk on the moon. There hasn’t been another manned moon mission since.

Between Sputnik and Apollo 17 there was an unprecedented boom in space travel, the likes of which we've not seen since. NASA's own mission timeline started with Mercury and was followed by Gemini, before Apollo.

Although we might recognise the names and faces of the astronauts who led these missions, there are hundreds behind-the scenes engineers, scientists, mathematicians, geniuses, and masterminds we have barely heard of.

That was until the release of the of the documentary Mission Control: The Unsung Heroes of Apollo. This well-crafted hour-and-41-minute masterpiece showcases a side of space travel we only ever get a glimpse of. Mission Control - the heart of the operation, or the brain, if you will.

The documentary by director David Fairhead tells the unbelievable story of the adventurous and talented team that created Mission Control from scratch during a time before smartphones and laptops. It's truly mind-blowing to imagine that NASA was blasting people into space in the 60s while still figuring out how computers work.

Mission Control: The Unsung Heroes of Apollo looks at how wide-eyed youngsters from across America came straight out of college and military service to build some of the most advanced technology to be able to ensure the first ever moon landing. It took a little bit of luck, extreme passion, heaps and heaps of hard work, and absolute dedication to make the magic happen.

Using archival footage and modern-day interviews, this is a must-watch if you have even the slightest interest in knowing how humans got from Earth to the moon and back.  


Stream Mission Control: The Unsung Heroes of Apollo on Netflix now.

ALSO READ | Challenger - The tragic day 7 heroes died in the icy blue sky as the world watched

(By Herman Eloff. Sources: NASA, History, Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum, Netflix)

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