Independent Filmmaker Wants to Kickstart America’s Space Program

by Jason Major on July 20, 2012

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“If Kennedy said ‘we will go to the Moon…some time before the century ends,’ what is… what is that? That’s not ambition. That’s pandering.”
– Neil deGrasse Tyson, Fight for Space

Here we are on the 43rd anniversary of the Apollo Moon landing, with no more shuttles flying, slashed space program budgets and no real targeted plan to get people off this world and onto another. American students score abysmally in science and math, and the general public thinks NASA is dead. What’s happened to America’s drive? What’s happened to the nation’s sense of wonder, its devotion to science, engineering, education and its man-on-the-Moon motivation?

Film producer Paul Hildebrandt wants to find out. But he needs your help.

Hildebrandt and his team from Eventide Visuals in Chico, CA, are creating an independent feature-length documentary about America’s space program, called “Fight for Space”. It’s not a collection of launch videos and CGI solar system shots, though; Hildebrandt is digging deeper into what originally made the U.S. space program great — and what has happened to it since then.

“We are producing a documentary that will examine the reasons why our space program is not all it can be. We are also going to show that space IS worth the time, money, and energy that it needs, not for only exploration and scientific reasons but for economic, planetary security, and cultural reasons as well,” writes Hildebrandt.

Hildebrandt has been attending space symposiums and traveling to interview key figures in science and space outreach, like Neil deGrasse Tyson, Bill Nye, Robert Zubrin and Congressman Dana Rohrabacher. He’s talked with scientists, astronauts, educators and regular everyday Americans about the importance of the space program. But in order for the Fight to continue, he needs our help.

Fortunately, that’s what Kickstarter is here for. Fight for Space is looking to get a little backing from interested and like-minded space fans to keep the process moving, and hopefully see the film become a fully produced, publicized, and possibly broadcasted reality.

“With your help we can bring awareness to this issue and come closer to making our space program a priority for this country once again.”

You can pledge any amount, from $10 to $10,000 or more (and see the incremental rewards of doing so) on the Fight for Space Kickstarter page here, and visit the Fight for Space website here.

“Please, support our film by donating above and share this project with your friends, family, and anyone you know who cares about space exploration or cares about the future economic and national security of this country.”
– Paul Hildebrandt, Fight for Space producer

About 

A graphic designer in Rhode Island, Jason writes about space exploration on his blog Lights In The Dark, Discovery News, and, of course, here on Universe Today. Ad astra!

HeadAroundU July 21, 2012 at 2:08 AM

LOL and I thought we were going to Mars through Kickstarter.

Stop funding the movie, we need to fund NASA.

Tyson and Zubrin are kinda controversial anyway, they don’t seem to be capable.

SJStar July 21, 2012 at 7:27 AM

U.S.A., U.S.A., U.S.A.!! …and I thought the Olympics were going to start NEXT week!

Such ‘rallying around the flag’ just misses the whole point.

Again. Just fix the whole blasted American economics first, and get your house in financial order. Technology isn’t the problem here. Regulating your fractured financing institutions like your mindless greedy banks is the problem. Kickstart them if you must!!!!

It is your staggering crippling Government debt is what is stopping you from doing anything at the moment — and it is cheesing of the rest of the world off because you are dragging the rest of us with you. Please. Get that piggybank just big enough so you can spend it on whatever you like. Don’t borrow it.

[After seeing the true horrors in what happened in Colorado, Denver at the Aurora Cinema - I think America has far more important and serious internal problems with its own Society. Perhaps you need a film on gun control - a country where there are more guns than people.

Not a fun way to finish in an article wanting hope for the future, but clearly fixing such obvious problems for a safer society might be far more important. Just saying.]

delphinus100 July 22, 2012 at 12:24 PM

“Perhaps you need a film on gun control – a country where there are more guns than people.”

There are. Just don’t expect to find them here where it’s off topic.

Peter Croft July 21, 2012 at 12:01 PM

Agree with SJStar.

America, sigh, the Batman massacre is yet another example of how sick you are. I am very sorry for the victims and families, but when, oh when are you going to realise the link between movie and TV and video game violence and real life, and make it impossible for nut cases to arm themselves LEGALLY? What does it take?

I can’t watch US movies any more. Everything is violence. Everything is taking horror to the next level. Yet you keep making them and exporting them to the rest of us, just like your toxic food and bank greed and tobacco and porn and war and smart bombs and drones and killing of innocent civilians. All because America thinks we should be more like you.

What I object to so much is that you are spreading your toxic culture to the rest of us! We can’t get away from it. We are being infected by US food, US violence, US porn, US wars, US drug poisons, US “social media sickness”, US psycho wierdness.

I am a huge admirer of US science, technology, medicine and manufacturing, but you are a sick country. I see no solution. You are going to be the cause of your own demise. Sorry, but I don’t want to be pulled down with you.

delphinus100 July 21, 2012 at 10:00 PM

“America, sigh, the Batman massacre is yet another example of how sick you are. I”

Really?

Anders Behring Breivik, anyone?

Peter Croft July 22, 2012 at 1:59 AM

Well, what does that mean? Of course that guy was sick. Does that make America LESS sick, as if there’s only a limited supply?

delphinus100 July 22, 2012 at 12:14 PM

I believe you just made my point for me. There is no monopoly here on this. That’s the implication I’m getting.

SJStar July 22, 2012 at 3:43 AM

Would it not be better to spend the monies on promoting mental health issues than promotional NASA videos? (That was my original point, you know.)

delphinus100 July 22, 2012 at 12:22 PM

Then that quickly devolves into the argument that begins; “We should take the money spent ‘on space’ (those who make the argument will not be as specific as you just were), and instead spend it on…(fill in the blank)”

And if NASA doesn’t do things to foster understanding of its activities purpose, it only encourages that debate. You may have problems with *this particular* attempt to do so, and that’s fine. But public relations are as important as anything else. You can’t hope to get public support, if people have a misperception or *no* clear perception of what you do.

SJStar July 22, 2012 at 1:18 PM

A reasonable response. I agree that there is nothing wrong with a little PR. I feel I’m just a bit sensitive, though, after hearing about those that were killed a few days ago – innocents who had no fault and no reason to be targeted.

It is horrifying, which I heard today, that there were recorded some 12,196 murders of which 8,775 died by firearms in the US in 2010. (9, 146 in 2009) That is 2.8 people for every 100,000 per year. (Who knows the number that were wounded – like Gabrielle Giffords [Including six dead and one being a nine-year old child.] There are in civilian hands there are 270 million guns – the highest in any country in the world.

When you think, say, of the “Battle for Bunker Hill” in Charlestown, Massachusetts, of the 2400 of the militias, 115 were killed in battle (notably in a war); and the number of shots fired – well the perpetrator in the recent killings in Denver had more bullets available to him than all those fighting on both sides of the Bunker Hill battle!

Would you not think that saving a couple more lives of Americans in some PR against violence and gun deaths might be a little more persuasive and important than some filmic nerd wanting to promote NASA (or anything else)? How about the economy, and explaining to the populous about the challenges faced?

This is my point…

Dave Whitman July 21, 2012 at 1:05 PM

In terms of the theme, “the future of manned spaceflight,” certainly there is reason to groan with the filmmaker. And it would seem that manned spaceflight does correlate with an increase in scholarship and overall interest. But…

I really wish there would be a corresponding documentary outlining the achievements of science since the end of Apollo. In that time frame, we’ve explored every major planet in the solar system (and set to explore one demoted planet). We’ve developed techniques for discovering planets beyond our solar system. We’ve imaged the universe in ways unparalleled in human history. We’ve sent missions to several planets that have produced data unavailable at any point in our history. We’ve witnessed the rise of “dark matter” as a major field of study. And so on….

This is cause for celebration and at least equals the “wow factor” of a manned space program. Why aren’t we celebrating the men and women who’ve made that possible?

Dave Whitman July 21, 2012 at 1:14 PM

And I didn’t mean to suggest that this is strictly a U.S. initiative. The achievements resulted from collaboration and a shared belief that research, discovery and initiative is a goal worth pursuing. The U.S. certainly contributed, but it is one star among a constellation. Pun intended.

lcrowell July 21, 2012 at 1:28 PM

The scientific accomplishments since the end of the Apollo program have been quite stunning. The Voyager spacecrafts did a flyby grand tour of the solar system, We put crafts in orbit around Jupiter and now Saturn, we have put probes and robots on Mars, we have space telescopes like Hubble and Spitzer, we see the universe in X-rays with Chandra and we have looked at the fundamental signatures of the universe with Kobe and then WMAP. Our knowledge of the universe has grown considerably since 1973. Most of these developments have not been with manned space flight.

I sense that the film here is about manned spaceflight. The ISS is a scientific lead balloon, where its purpose is largely as a space based diplomatic system. The US largely built this with the most modules and shuttle service, got Europe and Russia to put a module onto it, and now it is an international system where nations negotiate to send their astronauts to it. China is the obvious big exception. Big programs to send astronauts into space, or to build lunar bases and the like have a sort of romantic element. It is curious to think humans actually walked on the moon and drove around in a moon buggy and the like. Yet this is mostly about the “gee whiz” factor than anything else.

The last 40 years of space science has been rather stunning, even if it does not produce film clips of astronauts teeing off on the moon and the rest. NASA is far from dead, but it is just not always as visible.
LC

DrFlimmer July 21, 2012 at 2:40 PM

Well said!!

SJStar July 22, 2012 at 3:56 AM

Apologists need to apply then, eh?

I’d suggest you read this article again. IMO it reads more like propaganda. Hildebrand already says he wants to do this for “cultural reasons as well,” I.e. American culture. All America is concerned about now, especially in space exploration, is that other countries are now equalling or surpassing them.

Ancient history or resting on ones laurels, like your point here, just doesn’t cut the mustard anymore. Sorry.

RYAN WHITE July 22, 2012 at 4:54 AM

You totally missed the point, I think
you’re too far concerned with your own anti-american political views to stop
and think about the meaning of “cultural reasons.” The space program was looked
at as an inspirational tool for not just the Americans but to the world, if you
could stop and imagine for a moment that when man first walked on the moon it
wasn’t just an American moment, the whole world was watching with bated breath.
It was a human accomplishment no matter how anyone might like to spin it.

Honestly even if this is just a look at
the influences on the American culture over the last 60 years I don’t see any
issue with trying to motivate people to look forward in these rough times. And
you should very worried about your own ideals when you find it somehow offensive
that others are trying to inspire people or even AMERICANS to take up a cause
in something that could for the most part only bring healthy competition and
inspiration.

SJStar July 22, 2012 at 5:14 AM

Absolute poppycock. A gross fallacy that already has been proven as wrong. Americans speak for the rest of the world when it only proves useful for their point of view, when it has been proven time and again that they do it for really for ego and/or themselves.

Also I am being far from having any “anti-american political views” in my statements in reply to lcrowell here.

RYAN WHITE July 22, 2012 at 5:23 AM

You’re absolutely enamored with your
own hated. You can’t get through one statement without some form of America-bashing
and yet you are so sick that you don’t even realize it. You stated that the
Americans could spend their money better not on their space program but for
promoting mental health, are you by chance expecting to be a beneficiary of
this program if it were to happen? Well if anything you should be a promoter
for this documentary because it would increase the odds of ridding this world
of your evil americans by blasting them all out to space.

lcrowell July 22, 2012 at 1:27 PM

I am not sure what your point is. There is a problem with American society’s mind set of late. This nation has a history of wanting news and information in sound bites, we want food that is microwavable or that is fast food, we want things delivered as close to the speed of light as possible, and we have a financial trading system that literally now operates with microtrades at the speed of light. As a result there is little cultural patience for study of things that require lengthy effort in reading or problem solving. We also have in recent decades seen a growth in religious belief that denies scientific results, in particular evolution but increasingly cosmology is under the cross hairs. So this does not bode well for the future of American science and technology.

The Apollo missions to the moon served a long term purpose of showing us the universe off Earth was a subject of scientific exploration. To me the sad part about the end of the program was not the end of Apollo, but the end of the Saturn V. If we were still making those launch vehicles we would be able to loft some serious instrumentation into space, and send large probes and robots to the planets. I was a little kid when Apollo 11 landed on the moon, and I remember that for a time this captivated people. I remember a week of BBQs and parties. By the following year the whole lunar space program had fallen off the public radar screen. The last mission was December 1972, and the whole program went off the stage with hardly a whimper. Yet in the following decades I think it is clear that space science has expanded our understanding of the universe enormously.

I am not sure that an invigorated manned space program is going to turn the American mind set around much. I also think that without some clear idea of what this is intended to accomplish, in particular an economic purpose, there is not much point in sending astronauts back to the moon.

There is in a way a problem with American culture. This nation was the inheritor of the European enlightenment, but seems now determined to lead the world into some endarkenment. It is not clear to me how this trend can be reversed, or if not reversed then contained within the US so as not to drag the rest of the world down,

LC

Chris McClelland July 24, 2012 at 11:04 PM

Empires come and go; maybe the USA has had its day (I personally don’t believe that!) but when we talk about the need for human spaceflight, we’re talking about humanity as a whole, not individual nations. As long as it doesn’t deteriorate into chucking nukes around the place, the spirit of competition can be a good thing. Bottom line? I don’t care who does it, whether the USA or Russia or China or some multinational corporations or whatever, as long as *somebody* does it.

Ernie Dunbar July 21, 2012 at 4:37 PM

Mmmm, okay, so this one project to make a propaganda movie from a budget of donations makes sense… how?

Is there a problem with teaming up with a documentary studio like, oh I don’t know, PBS’ Nova? Or maybe said producer/director just can’t convince anyone else to fund his project because he’s terrible at what he does? Or maybe this project has already been done by someone else, and he has no area of improvement.

FightForSpace July 22, 2012 at 4:27 AM

Ernie, this is not a propaganda movie. We are creating a film that outlines the reasons why space exploration is important, how it affects all the people of the earth, and some of the problems that have occured in recent years that have put us where we are today.

The reason why we are going the Kickstarter route is because PBS does not fund projects, you make the film, then PBS will air it. Just one part of that cost is the $30,000 factual audit fee that PBS invokes on all documentary features. We are producing a documentary with facts, documentaries are non-fiction, that is what we are making.

I feel that many comments on here have blown things way out of proportion and I’m very disappointed to see such negativity towards our goal of bringing awareness to a more ambitious space program which will benefit all human kind.

Thank you.

Aerandir90 July 21, 2012 at 11:12 PM

Some of the comments on this article are highly inappropriate for a space news website. Take your political arguments elsewhere or else this might balloon into an unnecessarily long war of words that will drown out more relevant comments. Please!

Now, back to the article. I wanted to bring up the point of spinoffs. I think they are a horrible reason to support the space program. “Lets pour billions of dollars into a Mars program because we’ll get so many new technologies on the side!” Why not just direct those dollars into developing those techs that you want? Isn’t that more efficient anyway. More importantly, saying that you should spend money on space because of the various techs that it brings back to Earth is weak in itself as it detracts from the very purpose of the mission whatever it may be. No sane investor is going to give their money away on a product that is hoped to someday give unknown technologies in return, they’re interested in what benefits the actual product will return.

SJStar July 22, 2012 at 4:24 AM

American cowardice is no excuse.

Let’s see. Hildebrand already says he wants to do this for “cultural reasons as well,” I.e. American culture. That political, I’d think.

HeadAroundU July 22, 2012 at 4:55 AM

Yeah, some comments are over the top. Overblown anti-americanism.

It’s not so simple with spinoffs, you’re not quite sure what you’re going to get out of it.

Aerandir90 July 22, 2012 at 5:24 PM

Yea America’s got its issues but I don’t see the point of discussing them here.

Regarding spinoffs, that’s precisely my point. You’re not sure what’s going to come out of it so it seems to me to be a really weak argument for funding a space program. Maybe it works fine as a tertiary argument but not a primary one at all.

HeadAroundU July 23, 2012 at 3:21 AM

I guess it’s a better marketing strategy than telling people about noble ideas. What would be your primary and secondary argument?

Coacervate July 22, 2012 at 7:04 AM

I visit the USA at least once a year and I always ask people what they think of the space program. The reply that I get is usually a big yawn or some doubts about the moon landings…Americans are so repulsed by anything that smacks of intellect that they reject the exciting challenge of space…As a free society you, the people, have chosen to stay home. My heart breaks for you. You have gone from being tigers to sheep in a very short time. It seems clear that the Moon and Mars will belong to China. Oh well, its probably not important.

Aerandir90 July 22, 2012 at 5:34 PM

Brilliantly said. This also reminds me of when Congress halted funding for the Superconducting Super Collider much to the frustration of its vast number of scientists and engineers. Science in America seems to be faltering but only due to its unimpressed citizens..

Zoutsteen from Holland July 22, 2012 at 7:21 PM

“Limitless” funding ends up in creating Webb prices. Webb will still launch, some other projects won’t. Just let it fly and get used to popularity creating wasted cashflows.
As for now, the biggest struggle with the spaceprogram seems to be for NASA engineers/employees who’ve been laid off after the shuttle program shut down.
But in return, there is SpaceX and OSC to create jobs and Orion for a space exploration program. (not to mention several other private companies)
Things balance out towards a proper heading.
Space … the final frontier.
We all share that dream.

Tim Morgan July 22, 2012 at 7:45 PM

The President did make some cuts to NASA but congress came up behind him and made a much larger dent in our extra-planetary endeavors. I would make a plea to revisit that budget next year and reduce funding in other areas to re-establish our role as a leader in space exploration. After all, that’s what’s in the public eye and that’s what may be the most important move to keep public support. Other space programs and research are so far out of the public eye. We need a few astronaut stars out there leading the way so we can look like we’re doing something. If we can shift public opinion, NASA will be famous all over again.

SJStar July 22, 2012 at 1:35 PM

Hatred? What hatred?

Sick? I feel perfectly well…

Ridding the world of Americans? Eh?

Let’s see. The first thing I said was;

Again. Just fix the whole blasted American economics first, and get your house in financial order. Technology isn’t the problem here. Regulating your fractured financing institutions like your mindless greedy banks is the problem. Kickstart them if you must!!!!

It is your staggering crippling Government debt is what is stopping you from doing anything at the moment — and it is cheesing the rest of the world off because you are dragging the rest of us with you. Please. Get that piggybank just big enough so you can spend it on whatever you like. Don’t borrow it.

Also the story says “What’s happened to America’s drive?

My response above seems reasonable to me!

Is any of the things I’ve said that condemn me so badly by your own comments, are justified? I’d think not. (Attack the ideas not the person, would be go advice to you I’d think.)

delphinus100 July 22, 2012 at 2:35 PM

And mine is:

It’s not either/or, and it’s a false assumption to suggest it is.

And, ‘PR against gun violence’ does exist. But you won’t find examples of it here. (Or space information in the places where it is. Had the ‘filmic nerd’ done that instead [and would he be less 'nerdy' for it?], it would not be here, we would not know)

SJStar July 22, 2012 at 3:17 PM

Pity.

FightForSpace July 22, 2012 at 1:07 PM

If you are visiting a space news website expecting to see news about an anti-gun documentary, you’ve come to the wrong place. There have been quite a few documentaries made about such a subject, documentaries about the food industry, global warming, the financial system, etc.

We are making an original documentary showcasing the benefits and future of the space program. I respectfully request that you stop bad mouthing our project because we aren’t doing something else. If you have constructive criticism about the content of the documentary, that’s fine. Thank you.

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