The comic COUNTDOWN was based on the movie COUNTDOWN (Warner Bros. Pictures). The movie was an adaptation of the novel by Hank Searls. The plot of the COUNTDOWN comic concerns the race to the Moon. Russian cosmonauts and an American astronaut race to be first on the Moon.
COUNTDOWN, the comic, describes a modification of Apollo and Gemini spacecraft to achieve a hybrid space technology which will beat the Russians to the Moon. The idea is to launch a supply ship five days before launching a single astronaut in a hybrid Gemini/LEM/Apollo vehicle. For those who understand the actual Gemini and Apollo missions, the comic book rendering of these hybrid techniques are amusing. For example, the opening page of COUNTDOWN shows three astronauts training in an Apollo command module. On page two, the outside of the vehicle is shown. It has become a two-man Gemini spacecraft. There is no possible way for three men to train in three couches in a Gemini's cockpit.
The artist shows the Saturn I (not a Saturn 5) launching an Apollo command module with the lone astronaut as a crew of one. However, attached to the command module is a lunar lander's (LEM) descent stage. By some kind of "technical miracle, the command module evolves into a Gemini vehicle during translunar coast. After descent and landing, the American astronaut finds a deceased cosmonaut drapped from a partially opened hatch of a wrecked lander. "All dead!" He realizes. Though he is not the first man to land on the Moon, he can be the first to return to Earth alive. If he can find the shelter/return ship sent earlier, he will survive. The last panel of COUNTDOWN depicts the finding of the shelter-craft. The prophetic words, "YOU'VE MADE IT THE GIANT STEP!!"are attached as the narrative of the panel. It is strange that Neil Armstrong's first words on the Moon were similar to the last words of COUNTDOWN, the comic. "One small STEP for a man. One GIANT leap for all mankind."
1. Could a Saturn I booster put the hybrid vehicle of COUNTDOWN in lunar orbit? Discuss.
2. Could a single astronaut pilot the command module and land on the moon as described in DOUNTDOWN? Discuss.
3. COUNTDOWN the comic seems to infer that the LEM or LM (Lunar Excursion Module or Lunar Module) could launch the American astronaut from the Moon's surface and return him to Earth. Will this be successful considering the design of Neil Armstrong's Eagle? Why or why not?