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PROJECTS | 1999 | 20 DAYS IN THE 20TH CENTURY

20 DAYS IN THE 20TH CENTURY

Mare Tranquillitatis - July 20th 1969

Author & Director:
Juergen Ast | Martin Huebner

Commissioning Editor:
Manfred Schmidt

Duration:
45'

Production:
MDR // ARD

July 20th 1969. Sunday, 9:35 p.m. local time, Houston, Texas. Approximately 186.500 miles away from Earth, two American astronauts prepare to realize one of the oldest dreams of mankind. Apollo astronaut Neil Armstrong opens the hatch of the lunar module and as the first human being, he leaves his footprint on the surface of a celestial body. And then his famous phrase: "That's one small step for a man, one giant step for mankind."

What Nikita Khrushchev had demanded for so long, the class enemy had achieved with Apollo 11. The cosmic prestige duel of the two superpowers was decided. The New York Times printed the headline in the biggest letters it ever used in its history. President Nixon conducted a interplanetary phone call with the two moon heroes: "With what you have achieved, the sky became part of the human world."

The "Apollo" mission - a technical masterpiece. Since the famous speech of President John F. Kennedy in May 1961, more than 400.000 people in the USA worked on it. An act of bravery of human inventiveness. Mankind reached areas, that seemed to be unreachable before. Suddenly everything seemed possible. The whole world was glued to the television, fascinated and got carried away by an ecstasy that probably was one-of-a-kind in the 20th Century. Rarely mankind moved so close together like back then in the summer of 1969. Even the Soviet cosmonauts prayed for the save return to earth of their American competitors and class enemies. The documentary describes and analyses the long way to the moon, it reconstructs achievements and failures and looks back at one of the most exciting time in the history of space travel.