It was actually 21st July that the return to Earth began. Armstrong and Aldrin spent less than three hours walking on the Moon and lifted off in the Lunar Module’s ascent stage less than 22 hours after they had touched down.
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 22nd July 1969 entry here, returning to Orbit Books’ Rockets and Spacecraft Book 1 for his item.
It’s a popular misconception that the Americans were in a tightly-run race to reach the moon before the Soviet Union – but today, we know the “Space Race” was, in part, a bit of a myth, albeit one buoyed up by propaganda from both sides of the Iron Curtain at the time. While the Soviets did successfully put the first man in space, and land the first human-made object on the surface of the Moon – Luna 2, on 13th September 1959, its human space program was not as successful as America’s. As NASA’s moon mission success grew, interest in competing waned on the part of Soviet leaders.
Still, Hollywood has never been a place where reality got in the way of a good story, so you won’t be surprised to learn that in February 1968, moviegoers could catch Countdown, in their local cinemas, directed by Robert Altman, based on the novel The Pilgrim Project by Hank Searls.
Starring James Caan and Robert Duvall as astronauts vying to be the first American to walk on the Moon as part of a crash program to beat the Soviet Union, it’s more a drama than action adventure – and pretty much forgotten today, which perhaps comes a no surprise given that 2001: A Space Odyssey was in cinemas just two months later.
Still, that didn’t stop US publisher Dell putting their faith in it and releasing a tie-in comic – not to be confused, of course, with the brilliant but short-lived British anthology Countdown, which came crammed with proper SF stories, many set in the worlds of Gerry Anderson such as UFO and Thunderbirds!
• The Space Race from Audible on Amazon (Affiliate Link)
• “Moon Landing 40th Anniversary: A Comics Celebration” Gallery on Flickr
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