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Thursday, March 23, 2017

Rocket to the Moon

Promotional Poster for Woman in the Moon, a silent movie directed by Fritz Lang, 1929
I'm reading Leaving Berlin by Jospeh Kanon, a great story about espionage in post WW2 Berlin. Lots of bits and pieces get drug into the story, which prompts me to go looking around and this is one place I wandered into.

Fathers of modern rocketry:
Just because a person is an expert or is talented in one particular field does not mean you should accept their opinion in other areas. The New York Times poo-poo-ed Goddard's ideas about space flight. The Germans embraced Oberth's ideas. As a result, by the time WW2 rolled around, we had JATO rockets (little, disposable rockets used to give airplanes a boost on takeoff) and the Germans had V-2's. Just because some rich guy runs a big newspaper does not automatically make him a rocket science expert.

On the other hand, Germany was using slave labor to produce their rockets. Slavery in and of itself is not so bad, the West is full of wage slaves, but the German treatment of their slave work force was particularly horrendous. The workers were systematically starved to death. Ten to twenty thousand people died in the V-2 factories. Just because some guy is a rocket science expert does not automatically make him a good person.

The American defense department pretty much ignored Goddard during the interwar period. Since they failed to develop their own rocket scientists, when the war ended they were desperate to absorb German ones, never mind that they were probably war criminals. Just because some guys are in charge of big government operations does not automatically make them experts on any subject outside of administering big government projects, like perhaps, maybe, rocket science. Stupid shitz.

On the other hand, while Goddard was a rocket science expert, he may not have been very media savvy, or maybe he just didn't have the right connections, or maybe he pissed somebody off. Hard to tell. The rich and powerful are a clan unto themselves. You want to play in the big leagues, you need to have some heavy hitters on your side. Nowadays you might be able to accomplish something with the internet, but that still requires at least a smattering of media smarts.

Hermann Oberth designed the rocket for Fritz Lang's movie. I found some photos that I liked. I was hoping I could just refer you to a website that had a bunch, but I couldn't find one. All the sites I looked at only had a couple of good shots, so here we go. The movie is on YouTube, the subtitles are in German.

Our leading lady with a plot of their planned trajectory.

A meeting with a model of the rocket.

Close up of the model.

Rocket nearing completion in the assembly building.

Rocket leaving the assembly building for the launch pad.
Now we leave the realm of rocket science and venture into fantasy land.

Interior of the space ship. Model for I don't know how many science fiction stories.

On the moon. At least they landed their rocket standing up, not horizontally like an airplane. 

Our lady on the moon. The far side of the moon has a breathable atmosphere, don't you know. 

It's a movie, they are not really on the moon.

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