Apollo 11 at 50: Whatever Happened to the Space Race?

Race into Space Brooke Bond Card - Lunar Colony

Race into Space Brooke Bond Card – Lunar Colony

As the Apollo 11 Command Service Module covered the quarter of a million miles back from the Moon back to the Earth, NASA had big plans for the Moon, with Apollo only being the first step.

10 years ago on downthetubes, Jeremy Briggs wrote a 40th anniversary day-by-day celebration series of articles marking the Apollo 11 mission, featuring contemporary British comics and illustrations – and you can read his 23rd July 1969 entry here, taking a look at those devilishly fiddly Airfix Apollo astronaut figures.

Back in 1969, with the Apollo 11 flight accomplishing President John F Kennedy’s pledge to go to the Moon before the decade was out, as well as giving the United States its biggest propaganda victory over the USSR during the Cold War, the political will was no longer there to fund such expensive undertakings whilst the country was still fighting a war in Vietnam.

As we previously noted, Russian interest in major human space missions also waned once they realised the US had beaten them to the moon and the Soviet Union focused instead on its Salyut and, later, Mir space station programs, both projects, like America’s Skylab, that paved the way for the International Space Station.

The Observer Review, 27th July 1969 - Wishful thinking about the future of space exploration

The Observer Review, 27th July 1969 – Wishful thinking about the future of space exploration

Many who remember the many articles in British newspapers and Sunday supplements in 1969, caught up in the excitement of things to come, remain sorely disappointed that the “Space Race” fizzled out, and not only do we not have have jet packs (despite what cartoonist Tom Gauld might tell you), but as yet, there are no lunar bases and Mars, for now, has yet to be explored by humans on the ground, left instead, for now, to robot explorers…


Tom Gauld: You’re All Just Jealous of my Jet Pack

NASA: Apollo 11 in Real Time, 50 Years Later

NASA: Frequently Asked Questions about Apollo

The Space Race from Audible on Amazon (Affiliate Link)

• “Moon Landing 40th Anniversary: A Comics Celebration” Gallery on Flickr

The Race into Space Tea Cards – available from the London Cigarette Card Company

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The founder of downthetubes, which he established in 1998. John works as a comics and magazine editor, writer, and on promotional work for the Lakes International Comic Art Festival. Working in British comics publishing since the 1980s, his credits include editor of titles such as Doctor Who Magazine, Star Trek Explorer (previously known as Star Trek Magazine) and more. He also edited the comics anthology STRIP Magazine and edited several audio comics for ROK Comics. He has also edited several comic collections, including volumes of “Charley’s War and “Dan Dare”. He’s the writer of "Pilgrim: Secrets and Lies" for B7 Comics; “Crucible”, a creator-owned project with 2000AD artist Smuzz; and “Death Duty” and “Skow Dogs” with Dave Hailwood.

Categories: Art and Illustration, downthetubes News, Events, Other Worlds

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