Press Release
Chasing the Moon

Ocracoke Library and Deepwater Theater to offer a sneak peek at this new PBS miniseries on Sunday, June 30.

All are welcome to Deepwater Theater, Sunday June 30 at 8pm to enjoy a free screening of a 50-minute clip from Part 2 of "Chasing the Moon," a new six-hour documentary series about the space race, from its earliest beginnings to the monumental achievement of the first lunar landing in 1969 and beyond. Celebrating the 50th Anniversary of the Moon Landing, the series explores the 10-year space race odyssey.

Ocracoke Library is an official PBS Books Library Engagement Program partner and will offer this screening as their first collaborative event with PBS. The screening will include an introduction to "Chasing the Moon" with discussion questions, complimentary refreshments, and door prizes!

Ocracoke Library's community librarian, Sundae Horn, is happy to offer the "Chasing the Moon" screening as a program that will appeal to adults and families. "Ocracoke Library will celebrate the Summer of Space with this year's summer reading program theme of 'A Universe of Stories.' We'll have programs for children and teens throughout June and July," she said. "But for the first time, we'll have a summer reading program-themed event for the grown-ups." She also wants everyone to know that the anniversary of the moon landing (July 20th) is her birthday!  

"Chasing the Moon" will premiere Monday-Wednesday, July 8-10, 2019, 9:00-11:00 p.m. ET on PBS. It will also be available for simultaneous online streaming at Scheduled in conjunction with the 50th anniversary of the Apollo 11 moon landing,“Chasing the Moon” is a film by Robert Stone and marks his eighth project for AMERICAN EXPERIENCE.

“Chasing the Moon” thoroughly reimagines the race to the moon for a new generation, upending much of the conventional mythology surrounding the effort. The three-part series recasts the Space Age as a fascinating stew of scientific innovation and PR savvy, political calculation and media spectacle, visionary impulses and personal drama. With no narration and using only archival footage — including a visual feast of previously lost or overlooked material — the film features new interviews with a diverse cast of characters who played key roles in these historic events. Among those included are astronauts Buzz Aldrin, Frank Borman and Bill Anders; Freeman Dyson, the renowned futurist and theoretical physicist; Sergei Khrushchev, the son of former Soviet premier Nikita Khrushchev, who played a prominent role in the Soviet space program as a rocket engineer; Poppy Northcutt, the 25-year-old “mathematics whiz” who gained worldwide attention as the first woman to serve in the all-male bastion of NASA’s Mission Control; and Ed Dwight, the Air Force pilot selected by the Kennedy administration to train as America’s first black astronaut.

While other documentaries have largely painted a familiar narrative of goals set, obstacles overcome, disasters averted and missions accomplished, “Chasing the Moon” tells a vastly more entertaining and surprising story. As the film reveals, the drive to land a man on the moon was fueled as much by politics as it was by technology and was a controversial undertaking during a volatile time.

“When we think of that breathtaking moment of the 1969 moon landing, we forget what a turbulent time that was,” said Mark Samels, AMERICAN EXPERIENCE executive producer. “The country was dealing with huge problems — Vietnam, poverty, civil rights — and there was a lot of skepticism about the space program.‘Chasing the Moon’ explores the unbelievably complex challenges that NASA was able to overcome. Not a week goes by when someone doesn’t say, ‘Why can’t we do something today as ambitious, as grand as putting a man on the moon?’ It was a century-defining achievement, and our film tells a familiar story in an entirely new way.”

“As a 10-year-old kid in England in July 1969, my mother woke me up in the middle of the night to watch two Americans set foot upon another world, the Moon quite literally staring at us through the window above our television set,” said Oscar and Emmy Award-nominated filmmaker Robert Stone. “I’d recently seen Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey and the one-two punch of those two intensely visceral experiences ignited a fire in my mind that’s stuck with me ever since. It’s when I first began to want to be a filmmaker. In many ways, ‘Chasing the Moon’ is the culmination of a lifetime of thoughts that have been churning through my mind about this extraordinary period in which I grew up, about the boundless ambition and promise of a brighter future that space travel inspired, the belief that anything is possible if we join together in a common goal, and the urgency it ignited to preserve and care for our home planet. Having PBS as a partner to take this film out worldwide is a real honor for me.”

The broadcast of “Chasing the Moon” will be accompanied by a multi-platform engagement campaign, including a series of screening events and discussions hosted by universities, museums and public television stations (and libraries -- like Ocracoke!) around the country, as well as an immersive, interactive website hosting original digital content that further explores themes and topics from the film. In addition to the July 8-10 broadcast premiere, “Chasing the Moon” will have an encore broadcast on Tuesdays, July 16, 23 and 30, 9:00-11:00 p.m. ET, and a marathon broadcast on Saturday, July 20, 2:00-8:00 p.m.

Ballantine Books, an imprint of Penguin Random House, will publish the book Chasing the Moon, by Stone and writer/researcher Alan Andres, to coincide with the PBS premiere. The book will include and expand on the stories examined in the documentary. (Hint: door prize!!)

PART ONE: A Place Beyond the Sky begins in 1957 and tracks the early years of the space race as the United States struggles to catch up with the Soviet Union. The episode reveals breathtaking failures and successes of the nascent American space program and demonstrates the stakes and costs of reaching the moon.

PART TWO: Earthrise covers 1964-1968, four heady, dangerous years in the history of the space race, focusing on the events surrounding the Apollo 1 and Apollo 8 missions. As Americans moved through the 60s and reflect on the challenges ahead, many begin to wonder: What exactly is it going to take to beat the Soviets to the moon?

PART THREE: Magnificent Desolation, which covers 1969-1970, takes Americans to the moon and back. Dreams of space dramatically intersect with dreams of democracy on American soil, raising questions of national priorities and national identity. The final episode also considers what happens to scientific and engineering programs — and to a country — after ambitious national goals have been achieved.

About PBS Summer of Space:
Along with AMERICAN EXPERIENCE Chasing the Moon,” PBS brings viewers the universe with SUMMER OF SPACE, a multiplatform experience that includes six new science and history programs, all commemorating America’s journey into space. The celebration officially kicks off July 8 with a new space-themed ANTIQUES ROADSHOW “Out of This World.” NOVA special “Back to the Moon” (July 10) explores how new scientific discoveries are fueling excitement for a return to the lunar surface, and its five- part series “The Planets” (July 24) brings to life the dramatic story of our solar system — from Saturn’s 45,000-mile-wide rings, to Mars’ ancient waterfalls, to the raging winds of Neptune and more. 8 DAYS: TO THE MOON AND BACK (July 17) tells the story of Apollo 11 with rare mission audio and CGI recreation of the crew experience, and in the three-part ANCIENT SKIES (July 24), audiences will discover the centuries of knowledge, experimentation and engineering that helped our ancestors explore outer space. Immersive and interactive space content will also stream concurrently on, OTT and PBS apps. PBS Digital Studios will launch a new space-themed miniseries on Facebook, and rare imagery from NASA will be the focus of an Instagram Stories campaign.