Reviews & Ratings for
"From the Earth to the Moon" Galileo Was Right (1998)

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Nothing like a little science on the moon!

Author: Neil McRae from Winnipeg, Canada
21 April 2010

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

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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Kind of boring unless you're into rocks

Author: Solnichka McPherson from United States
16 February 2016

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Yes, this episode is a little more "egghead" than the others, and yes, it does give great insight into the science aspect and research opportunities the moon missions provided. However, most of us didn't take "rocks for jocks" in high school, and so it's somewhat of a snooze fest. The acting is top notch, no doubt: David Clennon really shines here, after being a face we mostly know from _The Thing_ and _The Right Stuff_. His lively portrayal of a geologist helping the astronauts learn proper observation and research techniques for their journey to the moon is great; it's hard to imagine anyone else in the role, really, because he nails it so well. This episode basically is about Apollo 15, and perhaps some insight into the stamp scandal would have been good viewing fare, but obviously the writers/producers steered away from controversy with the series as a whole. Tom Amandes does a good job portraying Harrison Schmidt, too, although some coverage of his actual spaceflight later on Apollo 17 would have been a nice add on here as the only scientist astronaut to reach the moon.

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Author: CharlieBrill from Chicago
31 March 2012

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

This episode had a lot of humor, and I found it amazing that they trained in the ways they did to identify rocks. I took a geology class in college, and found the subject fascinating. To get pilots excited about rocks seemed to be a unique challenge that they captured well in the film.

It was humorous to see the passionate science geeks argue about where to land the ship on the moon, and I do emphasize 'passionate'. You could tell that the story caught the excitement that these people had for their project. They wanted to do this more than anything in the whole world. It compels me to find such projects myself (not going to the moon, of course), but projects that you can soak your entire life into with a team and family.

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