From the Earth to the Moon: Season 1, Episode 10

Galileo Was Right (3 May 1998)

TV Episode  -   -  Action | Drama | History
8.6
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The Apollo 15 astronauts and backup crew go through extensive geology training in preparation for their mission.

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Title: Galileo Was Right (03 May 1998)

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Cast

Episode cast overview, first billed only:
...
Himself - Host
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Dr. Ray Pemberton
Barry Bell ...
Rocco Petrone
David Clyde Carr ...
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Keith Flippen ...
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Chester Lee
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Karl Heinze (as Marc Macauley)
...
Joe Allen
...
...
Al Worden
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Geology Professor
...
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The Apollo 15 astronauts and backup crew go through extensive geology training in preparation for their mission.

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3 May 1998 (USA)  »

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1.33 : 1
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Did You Know?

Goofs

In a scene depicted as taking place in December 1970, a Cessna 172M "Skyhawk II" plane is shown landing. This variation of the 172 model was not produced until 1974. See more »

Quotes

Rocco Petrone: Gentlemen, It's getting late. And we still have the decision to make - Marius Hills or Hadley Rille. Help us out here, Dave. You're the commander and you haven't said a word all day.
Dave Scott: Well, Lets See. Chet! No offense, be we feel we can land at either site. Dr. Pemberton. I'm one who respects hedging bets, but from what I've learned out in the field; Hadley Apennine, with it's complex variety of features, both impact and volcanic, is the best choice for putting together a picture of how the moon ...
[...]
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Soundtracks

Magic Bus
Performed by The Who
Written by Pete Townshend
Courtesy of Polydor Limited by arrangement with Polygram Film and TV Music
Courtesy of MCA Records under license from Universal Special Markets
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Nothing like a little science on the moon!
21 April 2010 | by (Winnipeg, Canada) – See all my reviews

As successful moon landings progressed, the focus began to shift from proving procedures and hardware to studying the strange new environment the astronauts found themselves in, in lunar orbit and on the lunar surface. This meant turning the astronauts into geologists, to prepare to best describe their environment and to identify the most useful samples. Some later Apollo missions are being cancelled because of budget cuts, so NASA wants to get the most bang for its buck on the missions it has left. The hopes are high that Apollo 15 will be a truly scientific mission.

To that end, Harrison "Jack" Schmitt, the LM Pilot on the Apollo 15 back-up crew, and a professional geologist, unlike the other pilot-astronauts, recruits his old mentor, Professor Lee Silver to "bring out the scientific mind" in Schmitt's colleagues.

Dave Scott, commander of the Apollo 15 prime crew is somewhat dubious at first, but after some field expeditions with the Professor, he not only starts to come around, but works to maximize the scientific return on his mission. He works to fit more scientific equipment into the LM's weight limit. When mission planners argue over two possible landing sites, Marius Hills or Hadley Rille, Scott recommends Appenine mountains at Hadley Rille, the more ambitious of the two sites, partly because its features, both impact and volcanic, make it the best choice for learning how the moon came to be, but also because "there's something to be said for exploring beautiful places. It's good for the spirit."

While Dave Scott and his LM Pilot Jim Irwin are learning under Silver, their crew-mate, Command Module Pilot Col. Alfred Worden is getting some lessons of his own from the excitable Egytptian scientist Farouk el-Baz. While Scott and Irwin are on the surface, Worden will be flying high above the lunar surface in the command module, and with el-Baz's help, he will learn to study the sights below him.

When the astronauts reach the moon, their teachers' training is well paid off. Scott and Irwin even find what may be a piece of the moon's primordial crust, possibly as old the solar system itself, later dubbed "the Genesis Rock".

In one of Scott's final acts on the moon, he performs a symbolic test of Galileo's theory that objects of different mass will fall at the same speed in a vacuum. He drops a hammer and a feather, which, sure enough, hit the ground at the same. Galileo was right.

Personally, I've felt the astronauts on later missions like this got the better deal. With their longer stays on the surface, they could do more, make more discoveries, and really explore. Perhaps this is the appeal of this episode for me. I've never had an interest in geology, but I'm sure a charismatic teacher like Lee Silver could've changed that. The enthusiasm he cultivates in the astronauts in this episode is quite infectious.

The episode takes a few licences with history. If you read "A Man on the Moon" by Andrew Chaykin, the book upon which this series was based, you'll see that it was actually Jim Lovell, while training for the Apollo 13 mission, who was the skeptical commander eventually won over by Silver. Scott, by all accounts, was quite enthusiastic about science from the beginning.

Liberties aside, great episode all around. Wonderful performances by Tom Amandes as Schmitt, David Clennon as Silver, and Brett Cullen as Dave Scott (the real Dave Scott happened to be on set as a technical adviser).

Definitely worth checking out.


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