Supermarket Spaceships

These 1950s life-sized mock-ups helped prepare Americans for the real Space Age.

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Ricky Walker Day

(Press photo for Name the Planet Contest, Mike Moser Productions)

Built for the television series Space Patrol, the Ralston Rocket had a christening ceremony befitting a real spacecraft in 1952. In the parking lot of ABC Television Center in Hollywood, Victory Through Air Power author Alexander de Seversky declared (preceding President John F. Kennedy’s sentiments by almost a decade) that the new generation “is not earthbound -- they are born with wings.” Fellow aviation legends Walter Brookins and Roy Knabenshue also attended.

In 1953, a contest raffling off the Ralston Rocket drew thousands of hopeful entries. Ten-year-old Ricky Walker of Washington, Illinois, won the “Rocket Clubhouse on Wheels.” On a cold January morning, in a scene reminiscent of the film The Day the Earth Stood Still, the five-ton, trailer-mounted spaceship rolled past throngs of space-helmeted children and up the driveway of Ricky’s home.


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