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How Disneyland Helped to Send Man into Space

by Trevor May | 26th April 2009 | Animation Disney Retro Science TV | 1 comment

disney_mars_and_beyond

Stephen Worth has an interesting article over at the ASIFA-Hollywood Animation Archive on how we’ve imagined the future throughout the past century. It includes scans of an article from a 1950 issue of Coronet magazine, illustrated by Chesley Bonestell, about a family trip to Venus in the year 2500, along with some clips from the Disneyland TV show’s “Mars and Beyond“. Mars and Beyond was one of three space-themed specials:

It’s impossible to overstate how important the Disney space shows were to the American space program. President Dwight Eisenhower requested a copy of “Man in Space” to screen for his top military officers to convince them that space travel was indeed possible. Six months after “Mars and Beyond” aired, congress passed the National Aeronautics and Space Act which established NASA. The launch of Russia’s Sputnik satellite in October 1957 might have been the immediate impetus for the swift passage of the funding for the program, but the groundwork for the concept behind NASA was laid by Wernher von Braun and Walt Disney.

Clearly, scientists like Wernher von Braun and politicians like Eisenhower and Kennedy were responsible for America’s space program. But it took more than science and funding to put man on the moon. It took will. The awe inspiring imaginary vistas of Chesley Bonestell and the fantastic animation of Ward Kimball and Walt Disney became our collective dreams. The day after “Man in Space” aired, every man, woman and child in America had the same fantasy in their head- the burning desire to go to the moon. The visions created by these artists and filmmakers became reality because they crystallized and energized our collective will.

Animation has the power to mobilize society to do great things.

Mars and Beyond can be found on the Walt Disney Treasures – Tomorrowland: Disney in Space and Beyond DVD along with “Man in Space” and “Man and the Moon” as well as, of course, on YouTube:

  1. Man & the Sky
  2. Mars in Pop Culture
  3. History of Life on Earth/Solar System
  4. Mars from Earth
  5. Life on Mars
  6. Travel to Mars

If that’s not enough, here’s some Ward Kimball concept art.

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  • The Art of Penguin Science Fiction / Antikewl Daily - The best place for stuff April 27th, 2009 8:19 pm

    [...] I’ve just been browsing The Art of Penguin Science Fiction, a website “that explores the history and cover art of science fiction published by Penguin Books from 1935 to 1977.” I’ve always been a big fan of classic Penguin paperback books covers and this tied neatly to yesterday’s post on man’s vision of the future through the years. [...]

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