The Space Forum is open for cadets to exchange ideas and information. Send in your questions, thoughts or opinions to the Academy for others to read and comment on.
This edition will initiate a discussion topic on an aspect of Space Opera that may be of interest to others. The discussion topic will be at the beginning of each forum and will hopefully serve to encourage others to participate in a dialog on the topic of the moment or any other topic they wish to discuss. Ideas for future topics are welcome. If you do not wish to have your e-mail included in the Space Forum, please advise the Academy if all or part of your e-mail is confidential.
Discussion Topic #1:
Did the early space heroes of the pre-sputnik days inspire the exploration of space by the United States?
The question is prompted by Stuart Schneider's introduction to his excellent space toy reference book- Collecting the Space Race. In his article "The Dream of Space" he defines the scope of the book:
This is a heady thought for what has been dismissed as juvenile fare for so long. However, the idea of fantasy shaping reality may not be far from wrong. The first evidence is from the Space Opera website. I have received e-mail from many professionals in the hard science and aerospace industry who fondly remember the early shows and the related memorabilia from the shows. The statement that they were "greatly" influenced by the challenge of those early shows can be found in the majority of the correspondence.
Another evidence may be the people who worked on these early shows. Many of the leading "Space Scientists" of the early 1950's were consultants to the shows. Men such as Willy Ley and others who participated in the Collier's Space Forum. Many of the ideas, spacecraft designs and research found their way into the shows and the space culture of the 1950's.
One would have to say that the interest generated by the children for their favorite space show MUST have had some influence on their parents opinion about space flight. After all they had to listen to the children's stories about their favorite heroes and BUY the latest "space" product.
The question is still... was this enough of an influence on the "parents" of the children or was it a delayed influence that appears in the late 1950's or early 1960's from the "children" of the early space program. I have always felt that the space race began not in 1957 with sputnik or with President Kennedy's Space Speech but on Friday morning October 12, 1951 at the Hayden Planetarium's First Annual Symposium on Space Travel. This was the roots of Collier's Space Symposium that appeared in the magazine during the early to mid 1950's.
I know the early shows sparked an interest in me and I know it has in others. Did these early shows shape the space race or reflect it? Your comments and observations on this topic are welcomed. E-mail the Academy.
Past question answered:
From Al Multon 4/97
[Your note reminded me that I had seen an ad in Dale Ames April 97 issue of Galaxy Patrol newsletter for reproductions of the Lone Ranger, Howdy Doody and Tom Corbett lunch boxes. I pulled out Dale's letter and there it was:
If you order a lunch box tell them you hear about it from the Tom Corbett Web Site and Dale Ame's Galaxy Patrol. I ordered the TC lunch box and rec'd it in about three weeks. I was pleased. If you don't have the original this is the next best item. See the LINKS page for Dale's address and ordering information for his newsletter.
BTW, there was also an early-50s TV version of Flash Gordon, filmed in West Berlin and Marseilles, which some of us remember fondly. There was an article about it in Filmfax a year or two ago, and there are are some videos around, too.
[I saw the Filmfax article but can not locate it now, anyone remember
which issue? The video I have was issued by Kids Klassics and states it
is in public domain. I have seen others, but do not know who or when they
[ Your story ideas sound very interesting. Geoffrey Tolle is working along similar lines and I even took a stab at a TC short story, so I don't see why you don't give your idea a try.
I'm a traditionalist and see your idea as an "alternate universe" where the 50's time line, science etc breaks into the Star Trek time line of "more" advanced science, history etc. More than anything, I would like to see the "innocence" of the TC time period remain intact and not "modernized". The revival of the Tom Corbett comic book in the 1990 Eternity version of "Tom Corbett" is an example of a good idea - - Tom Corbett - - updated in a manner that changes the whole concept of the original - - Bad Idea - -. When time and energy allows, a page about the Eternity version of "Tom Corbett" will be added with Geoffrey Tolle's assessment of the effort. You don't want to miss it.
The idea of the Space Academy being an older branch of the Starfleet Academy may work if you can get the transistors vs vacuum tube technology resolved. An "accident" in the fabric of time may bring the alternate universe idea into play. Sounds like a good challenge.
As far as "whoever is in charge of these things " I don't think it really matters right now. Anything to get the Tom Corbett series going again shouldn't be a problem for anyone.]
I suppose I have never lost the childhood feeling that Space Academy
should be REAL. Over the years I have published two books about the
space program, and one about science fiction. Currently I work at
National Science Foundation, and one of the great excitements in
recent months was actually seeing fragments of the Martian meteorite
believed to contain evidence of life, and to hear Dick Zare talk about
his chemical analysis of it
[One of my failures in the early 70's was to meet Tonga when I had a chance. I would love to hear more about your meeting. I would also love to see those Mars Rocks !!! ]
My professional website is at:
My new web pages are up and working at:
The "qf" part of that stands for question factory. I'm trying out the web as a medium for questionnaire surveys and for teaching about them. The question factory is going to be a fun place where people can participate in making new surveys, responding to the questions, and seeing the results. Right now I have 10 brief open-ended surveys, 5 radio button surveys, and results of 5 earlier surveys I did by more conventional means.
Some of the surveys will have to do with spaceflight. One of the radio button surveys and two of the result reports do, now. The survey is a questionnaire about extraterrestrial beings. A report is about a survey filled out by a real group of people who planned to stage a simulated Martian colony here on earth. And another one of the result reports concerns my study of "Goals in Space."
I expect to have a new radio button survey up in about a week, about people's reactions to the opportunity to be on the first human expedition to Mars. Earlier, a few hundred people wrote down their reactions, and I am putting those into a survey that asks whether the person would react this way or that way. So maybe you and some of your friends would enjoy checking The Question Factory out from time to time, for the space surveys or for any of the others you might want to answer.
I think your Space Academy is great, and I really like your idea of collecting information and people's memories of the future that used to be. Maybe you can remember the following better than I do, or know something more accurate about it:
The opening theme music of Tom Corbett was probably some traditional march, but I don't know which one. Years after the show went off the air, I was watching a TV news story about British politics, when a Labor Party band marched by, playing that tune! Maybe that's a clue. Around 1952 or so, there was a small-size 78 rpm record of the theme, but with words added. I may have distorted them, in my memory, but here is my best recollection of one stanza:
Spaceman's luck! Best wishes, Bill Bainbridge
[Thanks for jogging the memory. Several fans have remembered the song. Check out the Space Record where both the March and Pledge can be found]
Second, I don't know if you knew this or want to include it on the page,but--
I saw THE SEVEN YEAR ITCH the other day and sure enough -- in the first
5 min., in the scene when the mom and son leave on the train, the kid's
wearing a Tom Corbett Halloween costume. Just thought you might find
[I had forgotten about the segment. Many years ago I taped the TC portion of the movie. If I can find it I'll make some pictures of the actor in the uniform and put them on the web. I did see Frankie Thomas as Cadet Osborne in the wartime movie THE MAJOR AND THE MINOR.
Anyway I think you're the one to appreciate what follows: Keep up the good work, e.g., keep blasting on all jets!
Rory Coker [Thanks Rory for the information. You can see the results of Rory's work on the Space Record. A lot of good information that you will not find anywhere else, enjoy.]
From Chuck's last month's letter: Oh yes- remember Patty McCormack? At the age of 12, I was in love with her. She did the Red Goose Shoes commercials on the Saturday shows. [How about a picture of Patty from that time period? While researching pictures for the Tom Corbett script "The Final Test" I found a picture of Patty as well as information that she stars in the 1956 suspense movie THE BAD SEED. Chuck also proudly displays his space helmet made from the Woman's Day magazine. See his letter below]
|Patty McCormack - circa 1955|
|Chuck Lassen - Same Time period with his space helmet - made from the Aug 1953 magazine article. Good Job Chuck!|
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