‘Luna Italiana‘ (Italian Moon) is the title of the documentary, directed by Marco Spagnoli and produced by Istituto Luce-Cinecittà for A+E Networks Italia with the patronage of Agenzia Spaziale Italiana and in collaboration with NASA, that reconstructs the life and personality of Rocco Petrone (1926-2006) director of operations of the launch of Apollo 11 and key collaborator of Wernher Von Braun.
Son of immigrants from Sasso di Catalda, in the province of Potenza, Roncone, was born in the USA. He attended the West Point Academy and graduated at the MIT. He subsequently entered the legendary group of engineers who founded the nucleus of what was to become NASA in Hunstville, Alabama in 1958. “No one will ever be able to say enough good about Rocco Petrone. We would never have arrived on the Moon in time or, perhaps, we would never have arrived without Rocco.” With these words Isom ‘Ike’ Rigell, who in 1969 was chief engineer of the Kennedy Space Center conveys the importance of ‘The Tiger of Cape Canaveral’, as Petrone was nicknamed, a man who had a central role in the long and difficult path that led, on 20 July of that year, to the moon landing.
Thanks to rare archive footage from the Istituto Luce, Teche Rai, Associated Press, BBC and NASA archives, ‘Luna Italiana‘ tells the story of the space race through science, pop culture and the political life of those years. An exciting story that, in addition to the voice of Petrone and other protagonists of that enterprise, presents the point of view of scientists, scholars, and journalists. The world premiere of the documentary, inspired by Renato Cantore’s book “Dalla Terra alla Luna, Rocco Petrone, l’Italiano dell’Apollo 11“, published in Italy by Rubbettino was screened yesterday in Matera, the 2019 European Capital of Culture.
Cover ph. courtesy of Inaf Roma