National Geographic Announces Special Event Series RETURN TO THE MOON (w.t.), Chronicling the History-Making Artemis Missions That Will Send a Woman to the Moon for the First Time

With Access to NASA, the Series Will Be Documenting the Artemis Missions

National Geographic to Cover NASA's Journey Across Its Storytelling Platforms For Multiyear Immersive Experience

From Award-Winning Producers Simon Chinn and Jonathan Chinn's Lightbox, with Jerry Rothwell as Director, This Unprecedented Series Will Film Across Four Years to Track Progress of the Missions

WASHINGTON--()--Fifty years after the Apollo space flights, a new generation at NASA is suiting up for a historic return to the moon. Named after Greek mythology's goddess of the moon, the Artemis program has trailblazing ambitions: a woman will step on the lunar surface for the first time. In a long-term collaboration with NASA, National Geographic gives viewers an all-access pass to this group of intrepid astronauts and their colleagues, documenting their efforts, ambitions, sacrifices and breakthrough first steps in the special event series RETURN TO THE MOON (w.t.).

Co-Founders of Lightbox, two-time Academy Award®-winning producer Simon Chinn (Man on Wire, Searching for Sugar Man, LA 92) and two-time Emmy® Award-winning producer Jonathan Chinn (LA 92, American High, Whitney), together with Emmy Award-nominated producer Suzanne Lavery (Cajun Navy, The Traffickers) join as executive producers. Sundance Award-winning filmmaker Jerry Rothwell (How to Change the World and The Reason I Jump) will serve as series director. RETURN TO THE MOON will premiere from National Geographic around the world.

More than just a television series, National Geographic will offer a comprehensive look at this mission, using all of its print and digital storytelling platforms to invest in extensive, multiyear coverage of NASA's journey. Following the model of the magazine's iconic coverage of the early days of the Apollo program, National Geographic will report and photograph in the labs and in the field for major milestones. The brand's latest digital and social media innovations will be utilized to provide audiences with an immersive, multimedia experience, giving them a unique behind-the-scenes look at this groundbreaking endeavor. The digital news stories, features and podcasts told along the way will culminate in a special issue of the magazine once the mission is officially off the ground.

“For more than 130 years, National Geographic has created a legacy of bringing landmark stories and achievements to world audiences,” said Courteney Monroe, President, Content, National Geographic. “With extensive access to this history-making mission, we can once again inspire the world with a story of courage, imagination, passion and self-sacrifice through the eyes and the hearts of the Artemis team.”

The premium series will track the Artemis program right up to the moment NASA lands the first woman and the next man on the moon. Viewers will get a rare look \ behind the scenes, bringing them on a once-in-a-generation journey and introducing them to Artemis' key players. Shooting across four years, from now until the lunar landing launch, RETURN TO THE MOON will follow the full progress of the mission, through Artemis I's orbit of the moon, Artemis II's crewed flight around the Moon and ultimately Artemis III's lunar landings and return to Earth. Audiences will not only travel with the astronauts to the stratosphere but also witness personal moments: possibly hearing from those closest to the astronauts through the duration of the missions and hearing how it feels when your loved one is 238,000 miles away.

RETURN TO THE MOON will shoot on 4k in prime lenses and blend NASA's own recordings to immerse viewers in the action. With a ringside seat on the action, audiences will get to see the full scope of a NASA mission through the experiences of the astronauts and the crew striving to take them to the moon, as well as the emotional impact it has on them, and what it means for everyone back on Earth.

"RETURN TO THE MOON has an astonishing human drama at its heart: a new and diverse generation of astronauts preparing to embark on the most extraordinary journey of their lives," said Simon Chinn and Jonathan Chinn. "By bringing our feature documentary background and sensibility to their stories, our focus will be on the intimate and often high-stakes emotional moments that no-one else will capture as the spotlight of the world falls on this pioneering endeavor, which will include the first woman stepping onto the lunar surface. We are thrilled to be working with NASA and National Geographic to bring this epic story to a global audience."

Jerry Rothwell added, "I hope that by following the journey of the first woman to step on the moon, more than 50 years after the first Apollo landing, this series will inspire a new generation of young people to dream without limits. We’re excited for the Artemis Generation."

Using innovative technologies to explore more lunar surface than ever before, the Artemis missions seeks to establish a sustainable presence on the moon by the end of the decade and to lay the groundwork for humanity's next giant leap: sending astronauts to Mars. The program ushers in a new era of human exploration in deep space, building upon the extensive knowledge gained since the last time earthlings journeyed to the moon. Fifty years ago, during the Apollo missions, there were no women in NASA's Astronaut Corps. Today, 16 female astronauts are part of NASA's 48-strong active Astronaut Corps, and women are represented across the Artemis Generation at the highest level. The series will represent the breadth of individuals involved in sending the first woman to the moon, following the astronauts who are candidates for the missions, as well as the architects, launch directors, designers and more.

RETURN TO THE MOON is produced for National Geographic by Lightbox. For Lightbox, Simon Chinn, Jonathan Chinn and Suzanne Lavery are executive producers, with Jerry Rothwell as series director. For National Geographic, Simon Raikes is executive producer.

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About National Geographic Partners

National Geographic Partners LLC (NGP), a joint venture between the National Geographic Society and Disney, is committed to bringing the world premium science, adventure and exploration content across an unrivaled portfolio of media assets. NGP combines the global National Geographic television channels (National Geographic Channel, Nat Geo WILD, Nat Geo MUNDO, Nat Geo PEOPLE) with National Geographic's media and consumer-oriented assets, including National Geographic magazines; National Geographic studios; related digital and social media platforms; books; maps; children's media; and ancillary activities that include travel, global experiences and events, archival sales, licensing and e-commerce businesses. Furthering knowledge and understanding of our world has been the core purpose of National Geographic for 132 years, and now we are committed to going deeper, pushing boundaries, going further for our consumers … and reaching millions of people around the world in 172 countries and 43 languages every month as we do it. NGP returns 27 percent of our proceeds to the nonprofit National Geographic Society to fund work in the areas of science, exploration, conservation and education. For more information visit or, or find us on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube, LinkedIn and Pinterest.

About Lightbox

Headquartered in London and Los Angeles, Lightbox is a multi-platform media company creating high quality non-fiction content for an array of distribution platforms. It was founded by two-time Academy Award®-winning producer Simon Chinn (Man on Wire, Searching for Sugar Man, Whitney) and Emmy® Award-winning producer Jonathan Chinn (LA 92, American High, Whitney). Lightbox's recent productions include Whitney, a major theatrical feature documentary directed by Academy Award® winner Kevin Macdonald, which premiered at the Cannes Film Festival; Netflix feature documentary Tell Me Who I Am, which premiered to critical acclaim at Telluride and the London Film Festival; Academy Award®-nominated Black Sheep; Untouchable, a theatrical documentary on the Weinstein scandal which premiered at Sundance 2019 and aired on BBC2 and Hulu; high-profile Netflix hit series Murder Mountain and Diagnosis, an innovative Netflix Original eight-part documentary series produced in partnership with Scott Rudin Productions and The New York Times. The company has just completed post-production on TINA a theatrical feature documentary which will tell the full story – for the first time - of global icon and undisputed Queen of Rock and Roll, Tina Turner, directed by Academy® and Emmy® Award winners Dan Lindsay and TJ Martin; has just announced production on the first ever theatrical documentary about Princess Diana, which is being made in association with HBO and Sky, and will premiere globally in 2022; and is in production on documentary series Hip Hop Uncovered for FX, together with projects for a range of US, UK and international broadcasters and platforms.


Jennifer DeGuzman, 646-256-8639,

Release Summary



Jennifer DeGuzman, 646-256-8639,