It's easy to forget that in 1950, when "Destination Moon" was released, humans had yet to travel to the moon, the Cold War sent icy chills down American spines and Woody Woodpecker was available for instructional film roles. Yet the "magnificent desolation" of Earth's majestic satellite—to use the words of Buzz Aldren—was inspiring scientists and storytellers alike. Touted as the first film to seriously attempt a realistic portrayal of a moon mission, "Destination Moon" launches with the struggle to secure funding, moves on to the impact of the political climate on the project (the astronauts are forbidden to go due to fears about nuclear propulsion), and lands the experimental astronauts into problems that require ingenuity and scientific knowledge to solve.
Perhaps one of the most interesting production notes is that the artist responsible for the scene paintings was none other than the legendary Chesley Bonestell, whose images presaged space photography by decades. Bonestell was honored by scientists and artists alike for a career that started in 1905, when a view through a telescope inspired him to paint Saturn for the first time. His work earned him the title "Father of Modern Space Art."
Inese IversAstrophysicist Inese Ivers of the University of Utah discusses the realities of launching a space mission.
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