Apollo's Moon Shot

Triumph and Tragedy

Series 1 - Episode 2 Triumph and Tragedy



This series brings the early space programme beautifully to life with footage and sound recordings from Nasa’s archives, tonight covering 1960s trials and docking tests. There’s a childlike, carefree atmosphere to Ed White’s first spacewalk – he’s having such fun he has to be ordered back into the capsule like a naughty schoolboy.

But one incident cuts through the optimism. In January 1967 three Apollo 1 astronauts climbed into the capsule on the launch tower for a routine series of ground tests. They were enclosed in pressurised pure oxygen: what followed when an electrical connection shorted is captured with awful clarity in recordings of the exchanges between the control centre and the astronauts.


The two-person Gemini missions taught American astronauts to walk in space. However, tragedy struck the first manned Apollo mission when a capsule caught fire, revealing the true cost of space flight.