• Buck Rogers, 25th Century AD. 1933. Courtesy of William Cresswell.

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    Buck Rogers 25th Century A.D. - Big Little Book 1933
    • Date
    • 1933
    • Creator
    • Cresswell, William
    • Rights
    • Creative Commons Attribution

  • Flash Gordon ride at the 1939-1940 New York World's Fair. Courtesy of The New York Public Library.

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    Amusements - Games and Rides - Flash Gordon
    • Date
    • 1935 - 1945
    • Creator
    • New York World's Fair (1939-1940 : New York, N.Y.).
    • Standardized Rights Statement
    • http://rightsstatements.org/vocab/UND/1.0/
    • Partner
    • The New York Public Library
    • Contributing Institution
    • Manuscripts and Archives Division. The New York Public Library

  • Space Patrol (1950s television series) fan club membership kit. Courtesy of Sinclairindex.

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    Space Patrol Membership KIt
    • Date
    • 1950s
    • Creator
    • Sinclairindex
    • Description
    • This was the official Space Patrol Membership Kit offered as a cereal premium throughout the run of the Space Patrol 1950s television series. It consisted of an official badge, printed photo, map of the united planets, membership card and an official... more
      This was the official Space Patrol Membership Kit offered as a cereal premium throughout the run of the Space Patrol 1950s television series. It consisted of an official badge, printed photo, map of the united planets, membership card and an official Space Patrol handbook. less
    • Rights
    • CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)
    • Partner
    • Wikimedia

  • This Patrol Ship spaceship toy from 1934 was merchandise for Buck Rogers, the popular space-based adventure series. Courtesy of the National Air and Space Museum, Smithsonian Institution.

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    Toy, Space Ship, Buck Rogers, Patrol Ship
    • Description
    • This Patrol Ship spaceship toy from 1934 was merchandise for Buck Rogers, the popular space-based adventure series. Rogers first appeared in Philip Francis Nowlan's story "Armageddon 2419 A.D." published in the pulp magazine Amazing Stories in August... more
      This Patrol Ship spaceship toy from 1934 was merchandise for Buck Rogers, the popular space-based adventure series. Rogers first appeared in Philip Francis Nowlan's story "Armageddon 2419 A.D." published in the pulp magazine Amazing Stories in August 1928. When he bought the character for a comic strip, National Newspaper Service president John F. Dille suggested renaming him "Buck" to capitalize on the popularity of Westerns. The Buck Rogers comic strip (written by Nowlan and illustrated by Dick Calkins) debuted in 1929, followed by a color Sunday strip in 1930 and a radio program in 1932. This toy represents the main character's own ship. According to advertisements from 1934, winding this Louis Marx action toy allowed its owner to imagine traveling "through the inter-planetary void in a miniature model of Buck Rogers' famous Rocket Ship. Collector Michael O'Harro donated the toy to the Museum in 1993. less
    • Rights
    • Gift of Michael O'Harro. Do not reproduce without permission from the Smithsonian Institution, National Air and Space Museum.
    • Partner
    • Smithsonian Institution
    • Contributing Institution
    • National Air and Space Museum

American enthusiasm for interstellar exploration was built on decades of popular culture that imagined life on other planets. Fictionalized space heroes gave rise to an eager public anticipation of NASA’s declaration to land on the Moon. During this time, space-themed entertainment was incredibly popular, like the Flash Gordon ride at the 1939 World's Fair that allowed excited riders to experience a rocketship simulation. In 1928, the amazing Buck Rogers made his first appearance in Amazing Stories comic books as a swashbuckling adventurer of space. Readers fell in love with his stories and Buck soon expanded to the funny pages, radio, and movies. Merchandise and space toys quickly followed—toy guns, tin rockets, and breakfast cereal prize membership pins were all part of the Buck Rogers franchise.

The popularity of Flash and Buck led to an increase in radio show space adventures with Superman in 1940. Televisions shows, like Space Patrol and Commando Cody, started producing their own merchandise and many other space themed toys debuted, capitalizing on the space trend. The public’s positive reaction to these pop culture landmarks may well have influenced the political embrace of space and America’s readiness to see Kennedy’s dream of a man on the Moon fulfilled.