This paper model is the Orbit Jet spaceship, based on the Rocky Jones, Space Ranger TV series, the papercraft is created by B@F. The scale of the papercraft is in 1:200. The Orbit Jet was a fictional spaceship in the 1954 TV series Rocky Jones, Space Ranger. It strongly resembled a V-2 rocket in overall form, with a very prominent exhaust plume when flying, but had wings in addition to tailfins. There were references in the dialog to the engines being “atomic”. The Orbit Jet had a crew of two, but often had three or four others on board depending on the mission and destination. It often flew from Earth to inhabited moons of Jupiter and Saturn, which it seemed to reach in hours or days of time within the story.
Later in the series, another ship, the Silver Moon, was used, but it appeared almost identical to the Orbit Jet. The Orbit Jet introduced many features that would become standard equipment on later TV and movie spaceships:
- An electronic viewscreen (instead of a simple window or porthole)
- A fantastically complicated control panel (without an airplane-styled control wheel or stick)
- Power doors opening side-to-side as one approaches
- Subspace radio (the “Astrophone”) that allowed instantaneous communications over interplanetary distances
- Artificial gravity as an explained feature and plot element
- A cloaking device that rendered the ship invisible.
The first screenshot below shows the Orbit Jet in flight. The second shows pilot “Rocky” and copilot “Winky” at the controls. The side-by-side crew positions facing the viewscreen, with other workstations and sliding doors behind, presage part of the bridge layout of Star Trek’s Enterprise a decade later.
Rocky Jones, Space Ranger is a syndicated science fiction television serial originally broadcast in 1954. The show lasted for only two seasons and, though syndicated sporadically, dropped into obscurity. But because it was recorded on film rather than being broadcast live as were most other TV space operas of the day, it has survived in reasonably good condition. The film format also allowed more elaborate special effects and sets, exterior scenes and much better continuity.
The program was aimed mainly at children, so the plots were simple and always involved good versus evil and Rocky Jones outsmarting or outfighting the bad guys. By today’s standards for television science fiction, the Rocky Jones serials seem crude and simplistic. But for its time, years before humans first journeyed into space, the sets, props, and optical effects were remarkably well done. Indeed, many of the effects that became standard sci-fi fare, such as the forward view screen and automatically opening doors were seen first on Rocky Jones.
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