Christmas Eve, 1968 saw TV audiences captivated by a spectacle previously confined to the realms of science fiction: a live telecast of the lunar surface. The historic images came courtesy of NASA’s Apollo 8, the first manned space mission to leave Earth’s gravitational pull and orbit the moon.
Needless to say, this feat was not achieved without considerable risk. A catastrophic outcome could well have put paid to America’s goal of putting a man on the moon before the end of the decade. Earthrise: The First Lunar Voyage (November 4th, 7.50pm) examines what has been described as NASA’s most crucial mission, for which the astronauts had just four months to prepare. Interviews with those involved offer fascinating insights into the era’s high-stakes space race and the long and perilous road to Neil Armstrong’s “one small step”.