The year was 2350 AD- the age of the conquest of space Daily, millions of youngsters like myself gathered in front of our parents' big old vacuum tube radios, and televisions with small screens and snowy, black and white images, letting our imaginations take us into the future with Tom Corbett and his fellow Space Cadets.
We felt a kinship with Tom and his unit mates- after all, they were students, too, just like us, only a bit older and learning bigger and much more exciting things than we were. The actors were all masters at characterization; so much so, that those of us who were regular followers of the series felt that we actually knew these Space Cadets, and wouldn't be surprised if they knocked on our front doors and dropped in for a visit some day.
They inspired many of us to shape our future careers into various branches of scientific endeavors, thanks to the writers' attempts to teach us the real basics of physics as applied to space travel and astronomy, with the help of qualified science advisors such as Willy Ley. This was much more than a space opera "shoot-'em-up", it was serious fun and adventure for kids, but always with realistic and probable visions of things accomplishable in our futures.
We are now engineers, physicists, doctors, biologists, technicians, computer programmers, educators, rocket scientists, and yes, even real astronauts. And more of us than we realize remember Tom Corbett, Space Cadet with great fondness. How many of us can say that, in some way, if we think back to those early days, we can admit that we were influenced in our career paths by the early interest stimulated by these programs?
Unfortunately, our memories of the details of the shows have been blurred by time. After all, that was almost a half-century ago! Some of us are lucky enough to own surviving copies of rather blurry-looking kinescopes of the live TV shows, even fewer of us have been foresighted enough to save printed material, such as comic books, cereal boxes, and magazines with photos of our favorite characters from that long ago era. Fortunately, computers now allow us to electronically preserve forever these frail and fading images printed on yellowing paper. Even better, today the Internet allows us to share this memorabilia among our friends. I recently scanned all of the photographs in my collection, and with the gracious assistance of Cadet Ed Pippin, am pleased to share them with you in this Tom Corbett, Space Cadet Photo Album. I'm sure that other cadets have more images- we hope that you would like to share them with us. Just e-mail Cadet Ed or Cadet Chuck and we'll add them to this feature, which we hope to keep growing with the help of our Cadet Corps.
Cadet Chuck Lassen