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Texas State University

Texas State makes lunar landing documentary, oral histories available for Apollo 11 anniversary

Alumni Impact

Jayme Blaschke | July 16, 2019

astronaut on moon
Image credit: NASA

Coinciding with the 50th anniversary of the Apollo 11 moon landing, Texas State University has added the documentary film "In the Shadow of the Moon: People of the American Space Program" to its archives.  

The documentary can be viewed at mediaflo.txstate.edu/hapi/v1/contents/permalinks/shadowofthemoon/view.

The 46-minute film allows researchers and interested members of the public to better understand the perspectives of 15 NASA Apollo-era employees who represent the stories of hundreds of thousands who played varying roles in landing a man safely on the moon. The film intentionally avoids inclusion of high-profile individuals and instead opts to represent the high-intensity personal experiences that were being felt across the unprecedented endeavor.

The interviews featured in "In the Shadow of the Moon" were captured and edited in 2000 as part of a joint project between NASA, Texas State and Chris Elley Productions (now known as Electro-Fish Creative). The multi-faceted collaboration deployed more than a dozen Texas State graduate history students to conduct formal oral histories of the NASA veterans with the benefit of roughly 30 years of retrospect on their challenges and experiences in one of humanity's greatest feats. The interviews and film explore their personal motivations for becoming involved, as well as the not-often-told personal and social tolls that were taken on marriages and families.

"This film, which was created through academic research at Texas State, is an example of the unique materials held in the University Archives," said Kristine Toma, university archivist. "Our goal is to make archival resources openly available to the public, and we are delighted to help make this film accessible during this anniversary year."

Texas State has a long history of collaborating with outside organizations to perform research for the greater benefit of society while providing its graduate and undergraduate students real-world opportunities. Chris Elley, director of "In the Shadow of the Moon" was a graduate student at the time of this collaboration. 

"I couldn't be more impressed with the level of cooperation that happens across the Texas State campus," said Elley. "While I was pursing my master's degree in mass communication, I was constantly exposed to opportunities outside our department. Little did I know that one of these opportunities would result in the rare privilege to explore and film in the original Apollo mission control. My exposure to the NASA employees and retirees richly brought to life for me a global event that happened before I was even born."

Elley went on to co-create two national television documentary series and be honored with Emmy nominations and awards at the regional and national levels. Today, he works in technology, serving as chief innovation officer for the software company iCoreConnect.

The oral history archives related to "In the Shadows of the Moon" can be found at www.univarchives.txstate.edu/research-collections/core-collections/070-media-artifacts/media-oral-history/oral-history-nasa.html.  

For more information, contact University Communications:

Jayme Blaschke, 512-245-2555

Sandy Pantlik, 512-245-2922