Sometime in the early fall of 2002, MetaFilter ran a link, seen on Slashdot too, about the mockumentary-in-progress entitled Man Conquers Space.

Unfortunately, MeFi’s search is unreliable at present, so I can’t link to the original post. But it caught my eye, and I went to the creator’s site to see what could be seen. What I found surprised me.

In a short sample clip I viewed, I was astounded to see the strange, missed-chance vision of the 1950’s idea of what a space race might produce, persuasively brought to life and framed as a documentary.

Poking around a bit, I noticed that the creator of the film, David Sander, had also built his own space suit replicas! I immediately pitched a story to my editors at Cinescape, who on seeing the same clip green lighted it.

So in October I was told I’d need to have the story in by midmonth, so I fired off a batch of questions via email to David. He graciously replied, and I completed my article and submitted it. Months later, the magazine is on the shelves, and I can present the balance of the material here.

To quickly summarize, David is using a series of articles originally published in Collier’s magazine in the 1950s which featured space art from Chesley Bonestell and other visionary space and SF artists of the day in visualization of a projected space program developed with input from the most influential space and rocketry professionals of the day, including the ever-controversial Werner von Braun.

The images from the magazines played a large role in establishing the fifties’ idea of what the future should look like – after all, if rockets in the future would carry enormous planar tailfins, why can’t the family sedan? This gives the visualizations a peculiar impact, both in the context of the original art and David’s meticulous recreation of the future of the past.

I’ll save my personal critical analysis for the conclusion of the interview material. For the next five days, David will hold forth on his project, Man Conquers Space, and the inspiration for it. I hope you find it as interesting as I do.

6 thoughts on “Man Conquers Space: Intro

  1. With the tantalizing comment about Chesley Bonestell above, I went to look him up. I must have seen dozens of his paintings in my life, and never even paid attention. What a fascinating guy!

    I also found a couple of “Space for Kids” type books floating around my house, which, when delved in, unearthed some excellent paintings of his. Along with many others! I love my home library…

    Keep ’em coming, Mike!

  2. I’m a school teacher who has applied for NASA’s “Teacher in Space” program, and so (obviously) I’m a space geek.

    I recently discovered the “Man Conquers Space” site, and I was very excited by it. The fact that this amazing “mockumentary” has not been made yet is very disappointing to me. I want this video/DVD so bad I can taste it!

    Any info (and endorsement) you can provide for this project would be greatly appreciated.

    Later, Bruce

  3. Is the “documentary” film now existing? Any recent news? Could it be shown as part of a space art – science fiction – exhibit I’m working on for Central Louisiana, perhaps for next year?


    Byron Marshall

  4. When’s the big day? I keep checking back weekly waiting for the announcement about where and when to buy the DVD.

  5. Greetings from California, USA!

    What is the latest on MCS ? I’ve been waiting patiently and have seen no further updates on the progress of this fascinating project since last summer 2003.
    I grew up as a kid in the fabulous Fifties, when anything seemed possible, and remember reading the Collier’s magazine article with fascination and the Bonestell books, and I loved both George Pal’s and Walt Disney’s visions of our future in space. I’m sure it was this same fascination by NASA Space scientists in the 1960s that put men on the Moon by 1969. Sadly, we have not returned there since 1972. And now Mars looms
    Any word when the DVD will be completed and released? Thank you, David Sander, Surfaces Rendered, and Mike Whybark.

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