The 50th anniversary of the Apollo 11 Moon landing is coming up, and the National Geographic channel is determined to mark the occasion in style. It’s premiering its Apollo: Missions to the Moon documentary in July, and this isn’t just a rehash of the footage you’ve seen countless times. The documentary will cover the Apollo Space Program with raw media instead of narration, and some of it you likely haven’t experienced. This includes “never-before-heard” mission audio plucked from 800 hours of recordings as well as video (from NASA, TV and home movies) newly transferred from 500 hours of film. Unless you were fortunate enough to witness events the first time around, this could easily feel fresh.
Director Tom Jennings (who previously documented the Challenger explosion and Princess Diana) is relying on a few uncommon technological tricks to enrich the experience. He’s melding NASA footage with Apollo black box recordings, for example, and is syncing 30-track audio from Mission Control. The aim is to create an “Apollo-era time machine,” Jennings said. Not that there won’t be some additional drama — Hans Zimmer and Russel Emanuel have composed a soundtrack that blends orchestral pieces with “electronically manipulated” sounds of 1960s space exploration, including the Apollo and Sputnik programs.
National Geographic hasn’t provided a specific air time for Apollo, but it’ll be part of a broader Space Week that includes two new Apollo 11-focused specials (Apollo: The Ultimate Experience and Armstrong: The Enigma) as well as repeats of shows covering the Challenger disaster, New Horizons, Cassini and Rosetta. You’re going to get your fill of space exploration history, then, even if the first Moon landing isn’t enough.