"Galileo" Atomic-Powered Moon Rocket
from Robert Heinlein's "Rocketship Galileo" (1947)
About the Design
The years following WWII saw an explosion in popular science fiction. From movies like "Destination Moon" and "Rocketship XM" to the early novels of Robert Heinlein, Arthur C. Clarke and Ray Bradbury, imaginations worldwide were propelled into the cosmos upon wings fired by both hard science and pure imagination.
As early as 1947, science-fiction authors were imagining flights into space in rockets powered by the then-nascent power of atomic energy. The "Galileo" was one such craft, a former single-stage sub-orbital cargo shuttle saved from the scrapyard by private interests to be fitted with an atomic engine for mankind's first manned flight to the Moon!
This winged ogive design is typical of pop-culture spacecraft designs of the period. Although the German V-2s of WWII launched vertically, the "Galileo's" horizontal profile echoes the airplane-like spacecraft designs popular a decade earlier.
About the Kit
The "Galileo" was the fourth release for Fantastic Plastic Models, and the first to feature optional extended landing gear. Other unusual features included the option of a conventional chemical rocket engine in place of the atomic motor (This facilitated building the model as pre-"Galileo" space shuttle) and a simple decal sheet that featured the craft's name in four different 1940s period fonts.