Paper models, photos and musings of a Paper Kosmonaut

04 January 2013

Man Conquers Space - how the future could have been

Unfortunately, I have come down with a terrible cold so I am not able to do any work on my Mir model for the time being. So here's something else to read.

The first moon landing was made in 1963 and around 1968 there were U.S. astronauts landing on Mars. Of course, this is not how it went in real life, but in Australian film maker David Sander's fantasized timeline it did.
He lets, for example, the astronauts ride Wernher von Braun's proposed 1950's winged cone-shaped behemoth of a ferry rocket. Also, NASA never came to be but the NCA (National Council of Astronautics) did. They took care of putting a man on the moon and bringing hem safely back to Earth as soon as 1963. And it didn't stop there. Soon the NCA was sending people to Mars. In 1969 they made a film to commemorate all that had been happening in the past decade: "Man Conquers space".

More after the jump.

I think some seven or eight years ago I became aware of his project, called "Man Conquers Space" (MCS). It started out as a fantasy come to life, making a mockumentary (I hate that word) on how the space race could have been run, if.
Making props, suits and sets with the aid of an enthusiastic band of friends and colleagues, David started to bring to life an era that never existed.


Now and then Sander teased his audience with short but very exciting renders of his work: the launch of the Saturn Shuttle rocket, comments from (fictitious) astronauts, beautifully reenacted suiting-up scenes and tantalizing moments in the trenches of Mission Control. MCS all looked so real it almost wasn't that weird a thought anymore. Because of David Sander's skills in the special effects business he managed to capture the atmosphere of how it would have looked if this film actually was made. Using original footage which he digitally manipulated and giving his own original material a "used" 16 / 35 mm look and using editing methods fashionable in those days (split screens - remember the Woodstock movie?) it all looks very authentic and even realistic. He shoots extraterrestrial scenes in the Australian desert. Pictures at his website show the making of a full-size cockpit of the Saturn Shuttle and space suits. It all sounds wonderful for someone like me, fascinated by what-ifs. It even has a quite ingenious alternative "Kennedy" speech. In time, the film has been expanded to be able to tell more of the history preceding the events in 1963 and on. I even saw a very short glimpse of Eugen Sänger's Silbervogel, the antipodal rocket bomber he designed in Germany in 1943.

Sander also had some setbacks during the early phases. He suffered a major hard-disk crash and his project still is incredibly hard to get funding for. He had to take on other (directing) jobs to get the money to continue shooting MCS. I recall he went to Cannes two years ago to try and find a producer for his film and he took the "sizzle reel", the long teaser clip shown here, along to show what the film might look like.

MCS still isn't finished, although I seem to have read a rough cut is already there. There is still a lot to be done, in fact, there will be some shooting somewhere in the nearby future. I was kind of worried the whole project was cancelled or dying, so I sent David a short email asking how he was and what the status of the project was.
He still is looking for a producer for the movie to help and see the project along. I really hope he finds one, because I really want to see it in the cinema! So, if there are producers around reading this, help David get his film on the road, please!

EDIT 08 - 02 - 2016
Unfortunately, some time ago, David took all of his MCS-realted stuff offline. His site is dead, the clips are gone and unfortunately he didn't leave any message on what and how.
More than ten years in the making was too much for him, I guess. Shame. Pity. This would have been a great project, a great film with amazing footage. We'll never know what happened, I am afraid...
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