Summer of Space

“Chasing the Moon” Interviews, Part One: Getting There


Photo by Lisa Bralts

American Experience's Chasing the Moon documentary airs on WILL-TV on July 8, 9, and 10, and is available for streaming in its entirety on July 8. These six hours of space race heaven span the history of the space race, from the development of early 20th century rockets, through the tumultuous 1960s, and culminating in the first and subsequent moon landings by the United States' Apollo program.

To celebrate Chasing the Moon and this "Summer of Space", Illinois Public Media's Lisa Bralts talked with University of Illinois astronomy, aerospace engineering, and history professors about the science, history, and various legacies of that era's American space program. Many thanks to Steve Morck for his recording and editing contributions to this project. 

Getting to the moon was a lofty goal; humans first had to develop technology powerful enough to physically get them into space and away from Earth. Here, Illinois aerospace engineering professor Zach Putnam and Illinois astronomy professor Joaquin Vieira discuss the development of rockets and the serious technology required to get us there – and home.