Friday, July 13, 2012


I wonder how many other Star Kids remember the CBS television movie Stowaway to the Moon, which aired in January of 1975? Like any other kid obsessed with space travel, I also collected NASA memorabilia, and had models of the space shuttle, astronaut figurines, and even a really cool Apollo-styled plastic space helmet. I clipped articles about Skylab and Apollo-Soyuz. And when I saw that there was a movie (and a book, by William R. Shelton) about a kid my age going into space... well, I had to watch it.

11-year old space nut E.J. (Michael Link), who probably had all the same books and toys I did, manages to sneak onto a NASA moon mission, and his presence causes all of the difficulties you'd imagine it would. The film co-starred Lloyd Bridges, John Carradine, Keene Curtis (Strange New World), and real-life Gemini and Apollo astronaut Charles Peter Conrad as a news commentator.

I don't remember the movie itself too clearly (I'm pretty sure it was cobbled together with NASA stock footage and some cheap, oversized Apollo capsule mock-ups), but I do remember re-enacting the climax of the movie with some fellow Cub Scouts at our meeting that week. I also remember finding a copy of the novel it was based on in our school library and checking it out several times.

I know that the entire movie is available online, and maybe one of these days, I'll watch it again...


  1. I was the same when I was a kid; crazy interested in space and science. (I think it's what led me to start writing science fiction and fantasy.) I remember watching this, and I also found a copy of the novel in my school's library. If I remember correctly, I liked the movie, but I liked the book better.

  2. In that era I think this scenario was every boys secret fantasy-to ride Apollo and "Save" the mission. For those of us that grew up with the Space Program - especially pre Shuttle -these shows will always be remembered fondly. They caught the essence of our emotional attachment to the Space Program. Even today the stock footage of the Houston MOCR or a Saturn V or Ib launch on has my heart racing in a way the Shuttle never did.

  3. I remember watching this over at my grandmother's house when it aired (I was not quite 8 and a half at the time), but I don't remember the specifics of the film the way I remember watching the first two PotA movies when they aired on TV a year or two previously.

    Every so often I wonder about this film and how it holds up.

  4. I remember this one, might have even seen it when it premiered--this is the one where the astronaut throws up in his helmet, right? LOTS of stock footage, which was always cool back then. Made me question NASA's security, though...

    1. Yes the puke! One of the parts I remember.

  5. I have vague memories of this, I recall a bit where the mission control notice that the weight of the rocket is slightly heavier than they expected (due to kid hiding in the capsule) but they dismiss it as being within their parameters or down to icing or somesuch. I would ahve had a poster of Skylab on my wall around this time.

  6. Wow, this feels so very familiar, especially what the scene the other commenter mentioned with an astronaut upchucking in his helmet, but I can't... quite... recall it. I might have to look this up.

    I have only the dimmest memories of the Apollo and Skylab era myself (although I've of course seen the documentaries, read the books, etc), but I did have a space shuttle poster on my wall...

  7. I sought out a bootleg homemade DVD of this a few years ago in a fit of childhood nostalgia. Of course, now it's free on YouTube. It's worth watching. Much more thoughtful than recent children's movies. And E.J. isn't a precocious smart alec like almost all child characters are today.

  8. Loved it as a kid (didn't we all..?). Tape-recorded it and played it for years afterwards. Since the moon trips were over, it never had much rerun potential, but all in all it was a fun movie to watch.

  9. I assumed I dreamed seeing this movie as no one else ever seemed to remember seeing it or hearing about it. This one - and Salvage 1 - were the two moon journeys I remember best growing up in the seventies.

  10. This was my all time favorite TV movie when I was a kid. I dreamed of being an astronaut at that time and thought someday I will go to the Kennedy Space Center. EJ says his phone number during the movie and I wrote it down. In 1982 my girlfriend and I went to Daytona Beach for Spring Break and I brought that paper with the phone number on it thinking I'll call it to see if it was a working number. I decided against it. I did have a NASA Public Affairs car pass though and we and several hundred others watched the third launch of the space shuttle from a restricted area on the NASA East Causeway. :)

  11. I remember they first time I saw that. I thought was so cool. I wish could do that. It was about that time period end going too moon. But that movie help me dream more travel outer space.