Tintin: Destination Moon

Hergé wrote 'Destination Moon' in 1950, almost two decades before man walked on the Moon. (Xavier Cervera)

In the middle of the space race, Tintin’s character beat everyone and was first to walk on the moon

In 2019, we celebrate 90 years since Tintin’s first appearance, but one of the greatest achievements in the history of mankind is also celebrated: the 50th anniversary of man’s arrival to the moon in 1969.

After the Second World War (1940-1945), the world was divided into two blocks: that of the Western countries, led by the United States, and that of the Communist countries, led by the former Soviet Union (now Russia).

For years, the United States and the Soviet Union competed to impose their global vision. They competed in fields like scientific research, weapons development, and space technology to travel to space.

The Russian Yuri Gagarin was the first astronaut to travel to outer space in 1961, but the Apollo 11 mission of NASA (the United States Space Agency) was the first to reach the moon eight years later.

On July 20, 1969, the American Neil Armstrong said his famous phrase while leaving his mark on the moon: “One small step for a man, one giant leap for mankind.

www.youtube.com/watch?v=BD-1iGWZRDA

However, another figure had come along and took a rocket to the moon almost two decades earlier… at least, in fiction.

On March 30, 1950 the first edition of ‘Destination Moon’ was published, the comic in which Tintin goes to the moon accompanied by Snowy, Captain Haddock and Professor Calculus.

Hergé didn’t just write a science fiction story, but contacted astronautics experts and studied the technology of the times to write and draw the story. That was how he beat man in going to the moon by almost twenty years.

 

A real space rocket 

The X-FLR6, the mythical red and white rocket that appears in the comic, is not just eye-catching, but its design also fulfils a technical function.

When compiling information for the comic, Hergé discovered that NASA engineers used this technique of painting the rocket with two colours because it was easier to check for changes or rocking in the fuselage during the launch.

The shape of the rocket was inspired by the technological advances of those times. The X-FLR6 looks a lot like the V2 missile designed by Wernher von Braun, a famous German engineer. The V2 was used by the German army to attack its enemies during the Second World War.

Hergé also prepared a model of the spacecraft and imagined all the components that would have been part of the spacesuits: radio transmitter, oxygen cylinders, a helmet with a glazed part to improve visibility …

Hergé educated himself with astronautics experts to create the spacecraft and spacesuits. (Pedro Madueño – © Hergé / Moulinsart)

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