Astronaut Buzz Aldrin on the surface of the moon. / Statement Pictures for CNN Films/MacGillivray Freeman Films

The world was watching a grainy TV signal on July 20, 1969, when Neil Armstrong became the first person to set foot on the moon, declaring, "That's one small step for a man, one giant leap for mankind."

Audiences can again experience the thrill of that great achievement when "Apollo 11: First Steps Edition" launches at the Tennessee Aquarium Imax Theater on Friday, June 14.

If you go

› What: “Apollo 11: First Steps Edition” Launch Event

› Where: Tennessee Aquarium Imax Theater, 201 Chestnut St.

› When: 7 p.m. Friday, June 14

› Admission: $11.95 adults; $9.95 children ages 3-12

› For more information:

The film is a giant-screen version made exclusively for science centers and museum theaters, derived from Todd Douglas Miller's critically acclaimed documentary "Apollo 11."

This project began with the discovery of a trove of never-before-seen 70-millimeter footage and 11,000 hours of uncatalogued audio recordings from the Apollo 11 astronauts and 60 key NASA personnel captured during every moment of the historic voyage. Miller's team spent more than six months reviewing and piecing together the entire nine-day Apollo mission. They were able to distill this into a 47-minute film that makes viewers feel as though they are witnessing the events for the first time.

"We realized that no one but the people at Mission Control had seen what we were seeing, and we were seeing it 50 years later," says Miller.

"In some cases, iconic images from the mission were familiar to us, but we had only seen them on 35-millimeter footage. After scanning the 70-millimeter material, we were able to see the Apollo 11 mission in a brand-new way. Standing there, seeing this footage for the first time, was like a religious experience. We were floored, speechless."

Dr. June Scobee Rodgers, founding chairman of the Challenger Center for Space Science Education, recalls the thrill of that night.

"When it was about time for them to step out onto the moon, I woke my children up. We sat down in front of the TV, and we were just cheering. It was spectacular to see. They also showed things like the Eiffel Tower and huge crowds of people watching the event. People were gathered around their TVs in countries all over the world."

Rodgers will be the featured speaker for the launch of "Apollo 11: First Steps Edition" at the Tennessee Aquarium Imax Theater. She will provide thoughtful insights about our nation's space program as well as discuss her work promoting STEM studies through the global network of 43 Challenger Centers.

A portion of the proceeds from opening-day screenings will support the Challenger STEM Learning Center at the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga.

Rodgers hopes this new film will rekindle America's passion for space exploration and inspire a new generation to reach for the stars by pursuing careers in STEM-related fields.


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