Space Pop Culture

Film Reviews

Dream Is Alive

35minute IMAX produced film about shuttle processing & Kennedy Space Centre

October Sky

Fantastic feature length film based on the true story of Homer Hickham & the Rocket Boys. Inspiring and motivational. Its the story of the boys efforts to acheive the impossible - win the science fair with thier home made rockets and get out their, apparently inevitable, mining town destiny. I love this film and every class I've used it with has too, especially if you follow it up with the Air Powered Rockets activity.

You can also get the book 'October Sky', written by Homer Hickham, that the film based on.

Apollo 13

The story of Jim Lovell & NASA's 'successful failure'. The DVD features commentaries by the real Jim Lovell & wife Marilyn. You'll remember that we wore the gloves that actually went round the Moon on this trip, ooooh!

You can also get the book 'Apollo 13', written by Jim Lovell, that the film based on.


The Bruce Willis & Liv Tyler comet impact story. Factually inaccurate and more than a touch 'Hollywoody' but well worth watching (especially for people who have visited Kennedy Space Centre).

From the Earth to the Moon

Based on the book 'Man on the Moon' by Andrew Chaikin (also available), this is the hit HBO TV series. Tom Hanks introduces 12 hour-long episodes that chronicle the story of how we reached the moon. Doesn't feature any 'actual footage' but is the best guide to the adventure that there is. Very very recommended.

The Right Stuff

Feature length film about the Mercury Astronauts. Starts off right at the beginning with Chuck Yeager breaking the sound barrier and goes through until the end of the Mercury flights. The most thorough guide to the Mercury project that there is.

For All Mankind

Lots and lots of 'actual footage'. This is a montage of all the Apollo flights rolled into one to take you to the Moon, explore & back. Narrated by the astronauts themselves, the DVD is especially good because it tells you the names of the astronauts as they commentate.

Solar Max

A film about how the Sun affects the Earth. Lots of great SOHO footage and some nice teaching ideas too.

Space Station

35minute IMAX produced film narrated by Tom Cruise about the, er, space station. Unfortunately, as we don't have 3D TV yet this is just in 2D, but, if you can, go see the 3D version at an IMAX cinema. It sounds silly but you'll want to reach out to touch things as they seem to float around in front of your face. Amazing!

As far as I know this is only available on region 1 DVD but apparently these happen to play on region 2 DVD players anyway.

Space Race

4 hour-long, BBC produced, programmes about 'thier Germans' and 'our Germans' - Sergei Korolov & Werner Von Braun. The series takes you from the beginning of the Cold War to the Moon landings in great detail.

(I've met people at the Space Walk of Fame museum, Titusville, Florida, that actually worked with Von Braun - wow!)

You can also get the book, 'The Race', written by James Schefter, that the series loosely follows. Worth reading.

Book Reviews

Man on the Moon - Andrew Chaikin

The excellent & compelling human side of the story of getting to the Moon. Covers the Mercury flights through to every Apollo in incredible detail.

This is the book that the hit HBO TV series 'From the Earth to the Moon' was based on.

October Sky - Homer Hickham

In his own words this is Homer Hickhams story of amateur rocket building inspired by Sputnik. A story of determination and belief again all the odds that shows that pretty much anything is possible if you try hard enough.

This is the book that the film 'October Sky' was based on.

An Astronauts Guide to Life on Earth - Chris Hadfield

Popular book from everyone's favourite Canadian astronaut, Chris Hadfield

The Race - James Schefter

Covers the period from the Cold war to the point where the race was won. Describes the successes and failures of both countries from a human point of view.

Space - Andrew Chaikin

One of the first 'space books' I bought, its absolutely crammed with loads of the best images and snippets of information explaining each photo too.

Apollo 13 - Jim Lovell

The story of the 'successful failure' that the film was based on.

Failure is Not an Option - Gene Krantz

The most famous of the Apollo Flight Directors. As suggested by the title of the book, Gene Krantz was the guy who coined the phrase 'Failure is not an option' when trying to rescue the Apollo 13 mission.

Flight: My Life in Mission Control - Chis Kraft

One of the top men in NASA during the Moon landings, this is Chris Kraft's story of how they did it.

Last Man on the Moon - Gene Cernan

Gene Cernan's biography, a great read.

Deke! - Deke Slayton with Michael Cassutt

Autobiography of Deke Slayton, from childhood & Mercury days through to Skylab.

The Man Who Ran the Moon - Piers Bizony

A good insight into the top level political movements by the then NASA Administrator James Webb that enabled the journey from the Earth to the Moon to take place.

Carrying the Fire - Michael Colins

A very detailed and personal account of Gemini & Apollo 11 exploits from the man who Neil & Buzz left in orbit whilst they walked on the Moon. One of the better Apollo astronaut biographies.

Waystation to the Stars - Colin Foale

Written by British Astronaut Michael Foales' father this is the story of Michael Foale. On pages 60 & 61 he talks about thier time at the Wakulla Hotel on Cocoa Beach, where we stayed when visiting Kennedy Space Centre.

The Cambridge Encyclopedia of Space - Fernand Verger et al

Very detailed information on spaceflight technical aspects worldwide presented very in a colourful and easy to digest manner

NASA Mission Reports

A series of books covering technical aspects of every Mercury, Gemini & Apollo flight plus some Shuttle flights and other areas of spaceflight. Pretty much 1 book per flight they usually include a CDR or DVD stacked with material. For the serious space geek!