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Satellite in the Sky (1956)

Approved | | Drama, Sci-Fi | 21 July 1956 (USA)
The British launch the world's first orbital vehicle. Their military sends a super-bomb along, which goes wrong and threatens the crew and a stowaway.



(screenplay), (screenplay) | 1 more credit »

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A crew of astronauts, including a scientist and a reporter, launch from England into outer space on a rocket which can serve as a satellite. Their mission is to test a new tritonium bomb, but after the bomb fails to repel itself from the ship, the crew has only a matter of hours to defuse or destroy the weapon before it explodes. Written by Marty McKee <mailto:[email protected]>

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis

Plot Keywords:

bomb | outer space | space | rocket | test | See All (26) »


The never-told story of life on the roof of the Earth! See more »


Drama | Sci-Fi


Approved | See all certifications »





Release Date:

21 July 1956 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Aya seyahat  »

Company Credits

Production Co:

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Technical Specs

Sound Mix:

(magnetic prints)| (optical prints)



Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
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Did You Know?


This early (1956) sci-fi and early jet-aviation film uses an interesting mish-mash of aircraft footage to tell the story. As both a sci-fi and aviation buff, I thought the film was very entertaining.

In the opening scenes, we see the mid-fuselage-mounted delta-wing, heavy, large, long-range, multiple-crew, 4-engined Avro Vulcan, the same large aircraft high-jacked by SPECTRE in the James Bond film "Thunderball". The Vulcan had a prominently clean vertical tail with no elevators, as pitch control was performed by control surfaces on the extremely rearward trailing edge of the delta wing. The engine intakes are also prominent at the very inward portion of the wing's leading edge, next to the fuselage. These are very certain Vulcan recognition features.

The blue "Sky Test" or "Fuel Test" aircraft in the following early minutes of the film is the high-fuselage-mounted swept-wing Folland Midge, a much smaller, single-seat, single-engine aircraft. The Midge was used as the early prototype for the highly-successful follow-on Folland Gnat.

As the Sky Test Midge begins taxi for take-off at 10:30, a Gloster Meteor can readily be seen parked on the tarmac in the close background. The Meteor was an early jet-powered aircraft that saw use in the Second World War. It had a straight wing at mid-fuselage, and had two jet engines, one mounted in a prominent and recognizable pod under each wing. The vertical tail was oblong and forward-projected, with a mid-tail-mounted elevator. The nose gear is very forward-mounted, at the very tip of the nose. These are very certain recognition features for the Meteor.

The Midge is featured through about 14:00 during the Sky Test, but because the Midge was strictly subsonic, a different aircraft had to be featured at 14:20 to 14:25 for the "routine aerobatics" passes down the runway. The aircraft shown in the low pass is certainly a different airframe than the Midge, as tell-tale trans-sonic pressure waves can be seen piling up on the aircraft's flight surfaces, condensing the moisture in the air. The Midge, being subsonic, could not have been flown fast enough to produce these waves. The Midge is dutifully shown again on the landing rollout beginning at 15:50, after the aerobatics passes are concluded.

The aircraft in the aerobatics passes seems to have some recognition features in common with the Meteor, but is different in other details. On the plus side, the tail has a mid-tail elevator, but instead of oblong and projecting forward like the Meteor's, the tail is swept back at a rakish angle. It also has a long, trim empennage behind the cockpit leading to the tail, as does the Meteor.

On the minus, the wings are swept, but are not delta. The engine intakes appear inboard on the wing's leading edge, next to the fuselage, similar to the Vulcan's. No engine pods are visible under the wings, as on the Meteor. The aircraft is not large enough to be a Vulcan, and the Vulcan has no elevator on the vertical tail, as the Meteor and this aircraft do. This aircraft makes three more passes at and over the camera before the Midge is shown in the landing as noted above.

The aerobatics pass aircraft is not a Meteor, nor is it a Vulcan. After a little more digging into early transonic and supersonic British aircraft, I found the Hawker Hunter, which does meet all the recognition features for the aerobatics pass footage. Hawker Hunter standing in for the Midge it is!

Besides a great historical mish-mash of early jet aircraft, an interesting collection of aerodromes was also used in filming. Any identifying information provided for these airfields would be appreciated. See more »


During the launch sequence, the exhaust smoke casts a shadow on the blue sky. See more »


Kim Hamilton: Well, what if the STARDUST blows up, as she probably will?
Cmdr. Michael Haydon: Well, then we'll know... at least the designers will know... that the fuel or the design wasn't perfect.
Kim Hamilton: Some people find it impossible to be quite so impersonal, Commander. If I may be personal, I'm glad I'm not your wife.
Cmdr. Michael Haydon: And if I may be personal, so am I.
See more »

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User Reviews

One of the "lost classics" of 1950s Sci-Fi
18 December 2004 | by See all my reviews

This well-made British science fiction story concerns the crew of a test rocket on which a lady reporter (Lois Maxwell) stows away. Kieron Moore plays the pilot of the rocket sent into orbit in connection with the test of a new "Tritonium bomb". Donald Wolfit plays the bomb's inventor.

After releasing he bomb, it's internal propulsion system fails and it becomes attached to the hull of the spacecraft. All attempts to dislodge it are unsuccessful, so the bomb's inventor takes drastic action to deal with the situation.

Director Paul Dickson presents an exciting and intelligent story. The special effects are both competent and exciting -- which is no surprise in view of the fact that their creator, Wally Veevars, later worked on "2001".

The special effects include the space scenes, an underground space complex, and a rocket which is launched from a horizontal track, similar to "When Worlds Collide". Well-designed sets and props (especially the ship's interior and the spacesuits) enhance this wonderful British entry.

Currently this exceptional film is not available on either VHS or DVD. Hopefully, Mr. Wade Williams will eventually offer it as part of his wonderful, high-quality collection.

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