LONDON-The BBC World Service has launched a special podcast series to mark the 50th anniversary of the Apollo 11 Moon landing. 13 Minutes to the Moon details the final phase of the descent to the lunar surface - and the months and years that led up to those extraordinary moments.

Presenter Kevin Fong recalls meeting the unique cast of characters that contributed to the podcasts, including some of the last surviving Apollo astronauts.

In the making of 13 Minutes to the Moon, we spent the best part of four weeks travelling around the United States looking for the people who, one day in 1969, had somehow got a man safely to the surface of another world.

In Texas, we found Charlie Duke, lunar module pilot on Apollo 16, and Walt Cunningham, who served as command module pilot during Apollo 7, the inaugural test flight.

In Chicago, we interviewed the legendary Jim Lovell, who orbited the Moon in 1968 on the audacious flight of Apollo 8, and of course later commanded the ill-fated Apollo 13.

The very first of our interviews for the series was with Michael Collins who, along with Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin, completed the crew of Apollo 11 on the mission that saw human beings land on the Moon for the very first time in the summer of 1969.

I remember arriving at a cheap hotel somewhere on the western edge of the Everglades in Florida the night before and standing in the car park staring up into the night sky at the waxing Moon, knowing that the next day I’d be talking to someone who had once flown there.

But the astronauts were merely the most visible tip of a gargantuan iceberg. Buzz Aldrin salutes the US flag: The moonwalkers were the tip of a very long spear

In total, no fewer than 400,000 people were involved in Project Apollo. Nearly all of them felt deeply connected to the mission and, although only a handful of people finally flew to the Moon, in a very real sense the factory workers, engineers, technicians and scientists that worked as part of the Apollo programme felt that, on 20 July 1969, part of them landed on the Moon, too.

We wanted to tell all of those stories, framed by the drama of the last 13 minutes of descent before touchdown on the lunar surface.