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October 21, 2017 - No Comments!

Life in Rocket City: Interview with Apollo Engineer, Bill DeCarlis

Bill DeCarlis, standing near his office in the Vehicle Assembly Building, watches the launch of the first Saturn V rocket. November 9, 1967.

In this audio clip, When We Were Apollo producer, John Filson, interviews Apollo engineer, Bill DeCarlis. Bill describes his life as a young man in Cape Canaveral, Florida, working in the Vehicle Assembly Building on the Saturn V rocket that would take astronauts to the moon. From a chance encounter with a space superstar to a middle-of-the-night mission to save the Apollo 8 launch, Bill gives us a glimpse into what it was like to be part of something big and incredible.

Bill's account is part of our larger effort to capture the untold stories of Apollo workers for our upcoming documentary. Our Kickstarter campaign runs through October 31st. Please support it today!

September 18, 2017 - No Comments!

“When We Were Apollo” Kickstarter Campaign Launches 9/26/17!

Dear Friends,

I've recorded a video blog this week because we've got some very exciting news that I wanted to share face-to-face. I'm thrilled to announce that on Tuesday, September 26th, we will officially be launching our Kickstarter campaign for When We Were Apollo!

For those of you unfamiliar with Kickstarter, Kickstarter is a crowdfunding platform which allows anyone with an Internet connection to financially back a creative project in exchange for a reward. Over the years, crowdfunding on Kickstarter has brought tens of thousands of projects to life, from films and documentaries to professional art installations to exciting new gadgets and technologies. It truly has become an integral part of the fundraising process for any creative endeavor!

I'm asking if you'll commit today to pledging $1.00 on the first day of our campaign.  One of the things that can really make a difference in crowdfunding is to have great momentum coming right out of the gate. An enthusiastic backer response on day one not only gets us closer to hitting our financial goal; it sends a powerful message to Kickstarter and others thinking about backing When We Were Apollo that our project is one they should support!

"When We Were Apollo" mission patch is free to all our first day backers!

To show our gratitude, we're offering all of our day one backers a free When We Were Apollo mission patch sticker (see above).  This sticker will be available throughout our campaign for $5.00, but we're giving them away absolutely free to everyone that contributes at least $1.00 when the campaign launches on the 26th!

A lot more to come in the days ahead as we get closer to our launch. Things are about to get really, really exciting!

- Zack Weil

September 1, 2017 - No Comments!

The Spirit of Apollo is Alive and Well…in Texas

The Spirit of Apollo is alive and well in Southeast Texas, and in many other places I suspect. It just never ceases to amaze me how our response to natural disasters makes it so apparent. You would think based on the fractured state of our country that a natural disaster as devastating as Harvey would only embolden the tribal impulses tearing us apart. But, far to the contrary, the greater the degree of destruction we suffer, the louder our cries to help one another become–the more connected and responsible to each other we feel.

Growing up in South Florida, I learned quickly about the existential threat of hurricanes. In August of 1992, my community was forever changed when Hurricane Andrew struck with a ferocious force–upending trees, homes, and lives on a scale most people will never see. As the winds died down, I can still remember my first look at its path of destruction–thinking to myself that our lives would never again be the same–that we would never fully recover.

Neighbors Bob Reilly, left, and Jim McGovern embrace among the burned-out remains of their Breezy Point, N.Y., homes on Wednesday, Oct. 31, 2012.

And, then out of the silence they came. By mid-morning the revs and drones of chainsaws filled the air with a resolve that seemed to chip away at despair itself. These were not hired hands or government employees, but everyday people: private citizens, neighbors, perfect strangers now clearing lawns, driveways and streets one branch at a time because they could–because they saw in themselves an ability to make a difference–because they made a choice to be an active part of something bigger than themselves.

Now, the people of Southeast Texas must begin that same long and trying road to recovery. And if our response to previous natural disasters like Sandy, Katrina or Andrew is any indication of how they will ultimately fair, I have no doubt that their future–however distant and unreachable it may now feel–will ultimately be a brighter, stronger and more hopeful one. Because the same spirit of 'can do' that carried us through previous recovery efforts will also take root.

It’s the same spirit that guided us during the age of Apollo: a spirit that said “we choose to go the moon, not because it is easy, but because it is hard”–the spirit that believed “failure is not an option”–the spirit that got us to the moon and back. Behind these words and actions is the common understanding that when we work together towards a common goal, even the impossible is within reach.

The sun dawns over Houston in the aftermath of Harvey. Photo credits to @Astro2Fish on Twitter.

If we know the awesome power of this spirit, why then do we reserve it for the worst times alone? Why do we let storms and recovery efforts dictate the emergence of unity and cooperation? History shows that the spirit of Apollo surges in times of tragedy. But we also know of its amazing potential when skies are clear. Like finding a chainsaw and clearing that first path, it begins with a choice. The moment we commit to making this spirit a permanent fixture in our lives rather than a fleeting phantom, the better off we all will be.

August 11, 2017 - No Comments!

Our Place In Space

Dear Friends,

Zack suggested I send you this week's letter. I'm very pleased to meet you! I'm extremely excited to be part of the crew for When We Were Apollo.

Sometimes when I'm tangled in the day's to-do list or stressed about an immediate problem, I think about how big space must be if it takes a beam of light billions of years to cross it. The universe completely blows my mind!

I headed up to Griffith Observatory in Los Angeles this week to ask people what they think about space. Picture a long row of cars on a narrow road snaking through the dry desert hills. I crossed the parking lot at the summit and stepped onto the crowded green lawn in front of Griffith's pure white fortress topped with iron domes.

When We Were Apollo Producer, John Filson, at Griffith Observatory in Los Angeles.

Every kind of person was there, enjoying a scorching summer day and their curiosity for the heavens. Feeling kinda creepy until families realized I only wanted to hear their thoughts about space, I mingled until my bald spot was sunburned. You can watch the video below to see what people had to say.

I missed the moon landing by a decade, but I marvel when I think about how humanity started on this planet with nothing but our body and the dirt; Yet we figured out how to land a human being on the distant moon as it flew across the sky. WHAT?!

Not everyone at Griffith was awestruck. People were candid about more pressing concerns that keep them occupied, from grocery shopping to global poverty. Worries about killing our own planet was a common sentiment. Why spend resources on space exploration when we don't have our own house in order? They have a point.

But there were also plenty of kids, mothers, and friends who think we should always keep exploring the cosmos. It just makes sense. We're here, on our tiny blue marble, and we have the ability to perceive the vastness of space. Not only that, but we can apply the things we learn to improve our life and planet. Why wouldn't we do that?

When We Were Apollo takes us back to the time when putting a man on the moon was the coolest thing around. It's a reminder, as we look after our families and go about the daily business of Earth, that we play a special role in the endless expanse of matter and energy. It's human to be amazed. It's human to forget. All the while nature is here, and we can know it we want. It's distinctly human to decide if we will.

What do YOU think? Please jot us a note in our comments section.

Thank you for reading!

John Filson