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Liftoff! Success and Failure on the Launch Pad

Wernher Von Braun , Robert Goddard , Mark Gray  |  NR |  DVD
3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (9 customer reviews)

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Product Details

  • Actors: Wernher Von Braun, Robert Goddard
  • Directors: Mark Gray
  • Format: AC-3, Closed-captioned, Collector's Edition, Color, Full Screen, Original recording remastered, Restored, Surround Sound, NTSC
  • Language: English
  • Region: All Regions
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
  • Number of discs: 2
  • Rated: NR (Not Rated)
  • Studio: Spacecraft Films
  • DVD Release Date: March 1, 2005
  • Run Time: 340 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (9 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B0007DBB58
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #113,825 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)

Special Features


Editorial Reviews

From the Contributor

From the director - Spacecraft Films was created to provide access to the material documenting America's proud legacy in space. The sets (including Liftoff) contain the most comprehensive material available, and include rare footage and audio from many sources. In addition, we belive in adding value back to the archive, and make new digital transfers of film material, always leaving a digital copy with the holding agency for preservation. This unique commitment to the subject brings you the definitive editions of mankind's greatest explorations, and does our part in preserving the story for future generations.

Product Description

Designed as an overview to the history of launch vehicles in the United States, this 2-DVD set presents over 6 hours of material on everything from Goddard to the V-2 to Vanguard and Explorer I, to Atlas and Titan, even the Saturns and Space Shuttle. The set also contains rare Air Force documentaries, newly restored, on Vandenberg, the X-17, SAC, and the Thor. The set features multi-angle footage of many launches and explosions, with expert commentary by propulsion engineer Dave Mohr. Future DVDs in this line will present individual vehicles in more detail (such as Atlas, Titan, Delta). An incredible collection of rare footage and material.

Customer Reviews

3.9 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
28 of 28 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Great footage with one major flaw April 4, 2005
If you're a rocket buff, this set is definitely for you. Visually, at least...

The two disc sets starts with four formerly classified Air Force documentaries about ballistic missile programs (one of which assumes the viewer is likely a high ranking officer!). Over an hour of historic footage of Robery Goddard's experiments from the 1920s-1930s are then shown...this turned out to be more fascinating than I expected. You witness the birth of liquid fueled rocketry and can't help but smile along with the infectious grin of Goddard and his team. V-1 and V-2 footage is then shown from Germany...a darker period of time, but it's humorous to see Himmler's personal plane destroyed by a failed V-2 launch. Disc one ends with the first failed US satellite launch attempt on a Vangaurd rocket. Commentary is provided in places where the footage is silent...which is a nice addition when there would otherwise be no sound at all.

Disc two is where the trouble begins. The disc covers launches of Juno, Atlas, Titan, Delta, Saturn, the Space Shuttle, and others. Successful (and many unsuccessful) launches are shown. This is what all rocket fans like to see. Also, by the time period of these launches, audio recordings are starting to appear with the launch films. The problem is that the original soundtracks to these launches, with the deep roar of the rocket engines, are ruined by a commentary track that cannot be turned off. It is especially maddening when the commentary on some of the early launches basically repeats itself as multiple angles of the same launch are shown. You just want the commentator to shut up for a launch so you can listen to the rocket in all it's glory. Instead, he just says "Well, here again you can see it ignite and here is where the trouble starts.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars I Really Enjoyed It May 16, 2006
After reading the other reviews I was pleasently surprised with this video. I was expecting the worse but it was very well done. The afore mentioned review on the commentary being substandard made me pay close attention to it. I agree it is not "History Channel Documentary" quality but I found it to be just fine, no distracting breathing or other noise.

All in all it's well worth the time and money to watch it. Lots of video I've never seen, mostly about the earliest rockets.

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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
Verified Purchase
Liftoff! Success and Failure on the Launch Pad (2005) by Spacecraft Films-I am a one of the hard core people who make up NASA's aerospace fans and rocket enthustiasts and this film scored a five full stars stars with me.

This DVD starts from when reliable liquid fuel rockets were just an elusive dream of Dr. Robert Goddard taking the viewer step by step through all the major (American and German) developments to the first flights of the American Space Shuttle Columbia.

It includes detailed footage of Robert Goddard's rocket experiments (which I never knew existed), through the V-1 and V-2 Rocket experiments in Germany, continuing US Army work on the V-2 at White Sands New Mexico, going through the details of each significant milestone along the way including: sounding rockets, IRBM's, ICBM's, major upper stage developments, the first orbiting satellites, Solid Rocket Boosters (SRB's), Saturn 1, 1B and V, and the Shuttle, plus much, much more (see summary at bottom).

Without a doubt Spacecraft Films makes some of the best DVD products ever created dedicated to preserving the finest moments of the American space program. They provide rare restored footage recovered from the arcihives of NASA, the US Air Force and US Army and return these enhanced materials to the original source as a patriotic public service. It is for this reason these materials are a bit pricier, but the results are usually worth the investment to a space enthustiast. Approximately six hours of absolutely amazing materials are contained in LIFTOFF!

Please be aware that Spacecraft Film productions usually are not highly staged affairs in the sense of an IMAX or Discovery Channel production. Although they do incorporate significant editing and some occasionally inspiring music, they are intended to provide visual information and often include very informed narration by David Mohr, propulsion engineer for the STS.
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This compilation can be a mixed bag for even rocket enthusiasts. It depends on what you really like watching. It consists of several old USAF documentaries and a lot of footage that was never edited. It has been edited now with a view towards completeness rather than drama. Along with the footage, the series editor adds some commentary which is sometimes quite good.

Individual programs are listed below:

Thor - An Air Force documentary about the development and testing of the Thor Intermediate Range Ballistic Missile; a fairly interesting program from the 50s

The Ballistic Missile and SAC - Another AF documentary detailing the integration of the ballistic missile forces with the strategic bomber forces; another fairly interesting program from the 50s

Vandenberg - Another AF documentary detailing the purchase and building of Vandenberg Air Force Base; a mediocre program unless you are really interested in Vandenberg.

The X-17 Story - Another AF documentary from the 50s detailing the development of the X-17. It was intended to test re-entry vehicles. This one too is interesting.

Goddard - A mixed bag. This is a large collection of Goddard's silent footage. A lot of it is frankly boring. It is useful from a historical perspective, though, and does demonstrate the development of his work. Although the footage is silent, the editor does provide some minimal commentary.

Vengeance - This is another hodgepodge of footage of the German V-1s and V-2s. It is silent with some minimal commentary by the editors. Most is German footage but some is taken of captured V-2s in New Mexico.

Humiliation - The infamous footage of the failed first Vanguard launch.
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