Thursday, March 25, 2010



This month in history! As part of the Tomorrowland Series, Disney released their Man In Space special in March of 1955. This is an amazingly insightful pre-Sputnik, pre-Mercury Seven, Pre-NASA look at human interest in space exploration.

"Many of the things that seem impossible now will become realities tomorrow."

No kidding! I had such a ball watching this show, seeing what the fathers of the space program were planning and testing in the 1950s. What shape would the conquest of space take? Is it even possible to build a 3-stage rocket? Will we use chemical fuels or atomic energy? If we succeed, how will the mind and body react to weightlessness?

There was no such thing as an astronaut or a cosmonaut yet. In many cases, the solemn answer was, "We do not yet know. "

Disney's Tomorrowland Series, March 1955

You can view the first one here, but a better idea is to go to the YouTube version where you can enlarge the screen. Each clip, upon ending, skips over to the next... so you don't even have to search for the episodes, they all play in a row!

Here's a guide to the topics if anyone is interested in any particular episode:

Clip #1 (8 minutes)
Hosted by: Walt Disney

History of rocketry from 13th-century China
Steam vs. Gunpowder -- was that ever really an issue? You bet.
Robert Goddard's first liquid fuel rocket
Transylvanian Rocket Scientist Hermann Oberth
Experimental Flights Blooper Reels

Clip #2 (3 minutes)
Hosted by: Disney Animator Ward Kimball

German Army Rocket Program and development of the first missiles
The V2 - first forerunner of spaceships to come
Viking, Carpro, the Aerobee & other American rockets

Clip #3 (7 minutes)
Hosted by: Rocket Historian Willy Ley

Early Rocket Motors & Propulsion Units
1949: First time a man-made object reached outer-space
How "orbit" is achieved above the atmosphere
What would be the use of an orbiting satellite?

By far the funniest...
Clip #4 (6 minutes)
Hosted by: Space Medicine Doctor Heinz Haber

"Homo Sapiens Extra-Terrestrialis"
Why humans launch in the reclined position
The New Rules of Weightlessness

Clip #5 (6 minutes)
Hosted by: Space Medicine Doctor Heinz Haber

Why it's a bad idea to smoke in space
Radiation Hazards
Fast-Moving Meteorites
Early ideas for space suits

Clip #6 (6 minutes)
Hosted by: Dr. Wernher Von Braun, Redstone Guided Missile Division

Space Ship Engineering
Flight Simulators
Payloads and Capsules for Crews of 10?
Fuels, Motors & Vertical Lift

Clip #7 (7 minutes)
Narrated by: Dick Tufeld

Animated enactment of sending humans into space
Worldwide radar systems & tracking stations

Clip #8 (5 minutes)
Narrated by: Dick Tufeld

Earth as seen from space
Space suits in use
Return to Earth