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What really happened? Celebrating the moon landing 50 years ago

It’s been 50 years since Neil Armstrong famously took man’s first step and mankind’s giant leap on the moon.

According to an article by The Conversation, “NASA’s Apollo programme was one of the most challenging technological achievements in the 20th century. Beyond the space race and exploration, it contributed to several inventions and innovations that are still having an impact on our lives.” These inventions include everything from cordless drills to fire-fighter uniforms.

What seems impossible, though, is that the moon landing was successfully undertaken without Internet, satellite, artificial intelligence or smart technology.

5 must-watch shows for space enthusiasts

For space junkies, conspiracy theorists, lunar bugs, and those who believe that the sky is not the limit, DStv is airing a variety of moon-landing anniversary documentaries and films. Here’s our pick of the best.

1. 8 Days: To the Moon and Back

8 days, 3 hours, 18 minutes, 35 seconds is the total duration of the Apollo 11 moon mission.

Those days, however, we only saw a fraction of what happened.

Using cutting-edge special effects and previously classified cockpit audio, a new and incredible programme recreates the crucial scenes that were never filmed – such as the first sight of the moon, the dramatic touchdown, and the nail-biting journey home.

Original archive footage is seamlessly blended with newly shot film to create a new view of history. This is the untold story of the most important space mission ever flown.

Watch it on 20 July at 18:00 on the Discovery Channel.

2. Secret Space Escapes

What’s it like to leave earth to explore the unknown? What does it feel like in space? What happens when you’re in space and something goes terribly wrong?

Secret Space Escapes reveals terrifying accidents, fights for survival, and stories of close calls and near misses by the astronauts who survived them.

Recounting missions as recent as 2013, Secret Space Escapes draws you into the emotional experience of space exploration. This is achieved through first-hand accounts by the astronauts who relied upon science, training, colleagues on earth and, most importantly, their wits, in order to survive a host of dangerous situations that occurred during their missions.

Watch it on DStv on 21 July at 13:45 or stream it on DStv Now.

3. Apollo: The Lost Tapes

The Lost Tapes documentary series celebrates the 50th anniversary of humanity’s first landing on the Moon, kicking off with the daring flight of Apollo 11.

With gripping first-hand testimonies from eight surviving Apollo astronauts, including Apollo 11 Command Module pilot, Mike Collins, as well as those working in Houston’s Mission Control and at the Kennedy Space Centre, Florida.

This two-hour documentary deftly weaves together eye-popping archive footage, sifted from thousands of forgotten films and remastered to shine new light on the greatest adventure in human history.

Catch it on DStv 21 July at 17:15 or stream it on DStv Now.

4. Apollo: Back to the Moon

With special effects, we retrace the whole Apollo space program set against the backdrop of the Cold War, from the disaster of Apollo 1 to the triumph of the Apollo 8 mission.

Catch it on the History Channel on 15 and 22 July at 21:00 or stream it on DStv Now.

5. Moon Landings: Lost Tapes

When Neil Armstrong’s boot touched lunar soil on July 20, 1969, it was our momentous first foray into the universe around us. But the real truth of how we got to the moon, the messy and often harrowing reality of regular people actually doing something that was thought to be impossible, hasn’t been told.

Moon Landing: The Lost Tapes will mine previously unexplored material: audio interviews with astronauts and engineers locked away in NASA’s vaults, camera reels featuring lunar footage thought to be lost for a generation, and home movies that have gathered dust for decades.

Working with producer Nicole Rittenmeyer, this immersive narrative will take viewers inside man’s voyage to the moon.

Catch it on 4 August at 20:15 on M-Net or stream it on DStv Now.

6. First Man

The words he spoke as he made his mark on the moon will live on in the history of mankind forever – but what of the journey to that point?

This epic film tells the story of Neil Armstrong, the man, beautifully embodied by Ryan Gosling, as he wrestles with his ambition, the fact that he may lose his life and and the toll it takes on his family.

In the words of Director Damien Chazelle (La La Land and Whiplash), “This is the messy reality of what it took”.

It tracks the steps to the final landing, including the many failed missions and lives and friends lost along the way. The film leaves one with an in-depth understanding of the mammoth magnitude of this endeavour and all those that have and will follow.

Catch it on M-Net on 15 and 21 July at 20:00 or stream it on DStv Now.

The DStv Now app is free for DStv subscribers. As well as being able to stream channels live, there is a huge collection of movies, series and documentaries available to watch on demand. Go to to sign up.

This article was published in partnership with MultiChoice.

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What really happened? Celebrating the moon landing 50 years ago