FAQS about the ANSA astronauts, the ANSA spacecraft and all the other stuff related to the space program
 seen in the various


Q:    Somewhat off the topic, but what is your favorite "Planet of the Apes" joke?

A:    It was a rumor that went around the Internet back when Senator John Glenn, somewhat aged, went back into space.  Seeing how old people are easy to fool and often believe what they see, the rumor was that NASA, as a practical joke, when John Glenn returned from space, was going to have everyone at mission control dress up in ape suits to scare him.  Burying the Statue of Liberty up to her head was also going to also be a difficult task ...  The joke was typed up on an official looking NASA memo head and made the rounds of the Internet.  It was pretty funny, especially the part where it said:

"And we have just a day and a half to bury the Statue of Liberty up to her chest.  Failure is not an option, gentlemen.  I believe this will be our finest joke!"

It just went to show you how deeply ingrained this movie series is to American pop culture.  Now on to the real discussion...


Q:    Ok, as far as I know, dogs and cats died-out when the apes came back in time in EFTPOTA, so my question is;
Why is there a dog in the opening scenes of the first episode of POTA the Series?  Good luck answering this one.

A:    Yikes!  I never noticed that glitch!  What Vahmp is referring to is the fact that the entire premise of the POTA series is that returning scout ships (either interplanetary or interstellar and which are never seen) bring back a deadly virus which has no effect on human beings but wipes out (in short order) all cats and dogs (and other pet type creatures) on Earth.  Since humans value the companionship of their animal friends, the world is at a loss ... until someone somewhere introduces chimps and monkeys as pets.  As the simians are adapted and bred to companionship they are eventually adapted and trained for menial labor such as janitor, waiter, etc.  Simian trade is big business in the fourth film with education and training centers present.  Out of this background comes Caesar, the first simian to ever say "No!" to his human masters.

The "no cats and no dogs" premise is so deeply rooted that to show an ape child playing with a dog in the first episode of the TV series is clearly a case of "someone was asleep at the wheel" when it came to writing the scene / script.

I wonder if dogs and cats appear in any of the other episodes / movies?  If you're watching these movies / episodes and you spot a dog or cat, let me know and I'll start a list here of their appearances.  Thanks again to Vahmp for this rather obvious gaff.


Q:    Has the ANSA spacecraft appeared in any other films to date, under a different name and with nothing in common with the POTA series?

A:    Yes.  The ANSA spacecraft appears again in the 20th Century Fox movie adaptation of Ray Bradbury's "The Illustrated Man."  The movie revolves around a series of stories told by a drifter with full body skin illustrations.  One of the stories is called "The Long Rain" and involves four astronauts who crash land on Venus where it rains mercilessly all the time.  The astronauts have to hike to a series of survival shelters called "Sun Domes" but attrition and the pounding rain reduces the crew to just one astronaut, the commander, at the end.  A Sun Dome is found and the story fades back to the main plot.

During "The Long Rain", the astronauts find that they have been walking in a huge circle and have returned to their crashed ship.  The ship is none other than the "Icarus" from the POTA series.  Here are four pictures of the "Icarus" as it appeared crashed on Venus, the prop reused, in the 1969 20th Century Fox film "The Illustrated Man." 

The lettering is different and so are the symbols but this is the "Icarus" from the POTA film a year earlier.

Note the approaching astronaut returning to claim some travel maps stored aboard the crashed spacecraft.
Also note the missing front escape hatch now partially concealed and covered in Venusian ooze.

It's not ANSA anymore, now it's the "Unified States of Earth."  Note the astronaut reaching into the left window
of the crashed spacecraft and the fungus growing out of the interior of the spacecraft.

The fungus filled interior of the crashed spacecraft with the astronaut looking inside. 
The map canisters he wants to retrieve are clipped there above the window. 
You'll notice the master caution light towards the front,
partially obscured by the cable conduit and the exposed "waterfall" of wiring.

Here is a shot of the whole ship again, with the astronaut (and his map canister) for reference to size, etc. 
We never see the rear of the prop.

Very special thanks goes out to Dana Lubich for giving us the heads up on this info.  Dana also informs me that this wasn't the only time that the Fox prop archives were raided for POTA material for other films.  George Lucas has long been accused of dressing his Mos Eisley Cantina aliens in the remnants of the POTA prop stock.  Here is a picture of a pair of "Duros" aliens conversing in the bar and one appears to be wearing the white ANSA flight suit ... minus any indentifying markings. 

During the infamous Star Wars Holiday Special, several of the cantina aliens in that abomination of celluloid also appear to be wearing old gorilla stock costumes or pieces of gorilla soldier / Ursus costumes. 

As a bit of irony in the muddled Star Wars saga, Lucas actually had a traditional Mercury / Gemini type American astronaut in the original Cantina scene.  Look for him to cross from right to left with his drink near the bar.  He's in full flight gear and the American flag is easy to see on his left shoulder.  This has often been described in the blooper blogs as "a galaxy not quite so far away." 

Thanks, Dana!


Q:  Was the 1968 film "Planet of the Apes" really the first time that we see astronauts return to a devastated Earth and find a shattered Statue of Liberty?

A:  No.  A lot of people may think this but I have found, through chance, two prior examples of this pivotal and even controversial scene being played out in visual form.  Both of these scenes were drawn by Alex Shomburg and graced the covers of two pulp science fiction magazines, the oldest example being a color cover printed a full 15 years before POTA's 1968 release date!


AMAZING STORIES, February 1964 issue

August / September 1953 issue shown.

Astronauts return from space and find a devastated planet but Lady Liberty still survives!  A source of inspiration for the original writers of the unique 1968 POTA script?  It's entirely possible...



Q:    What does "ANSA" stand for?

A:    ANSA stands for American National Space Administration.  Or it could stand for Aeronautics and National Space Administration.  Whatever it stands for, the word "ANSA" was obviously a play on the official "NASA" designation, which stands for National Aeronautics and Space Administration.  We're not sure why the first and second movies, as well as the TV series deal with spacecraft and astronauts from an organization known as "ANSA" yet in the third movie, we are told that the agency is "NASA" and that "NASA" is going over the spacecraft that has returned.  Changing political views and policy?  Could be.  A lot went on in the political theater in the real world between the time of the 1968 production of Planet of the Apes and the 1972 production of Escape from the Planet of the Apes

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The patches on the astronauts' suits all bear out the logo pictured above in every movie that deals with the astronauts and their spacecraft, in the first movie, the second movie, and in the short-lived television series.

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Strangely, it is NASA and NASA's logo which is displayed on the side of the NASA spacecraft "Venturer" as seen in the animated television series "Return to the Planet of the Apes" and on the side of the NASA "Cassiopeia" as seen in the Ubisoft computer game "Planet of the Apes".

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NASA official logo

NASA logo on the "Venturer" Full shot of the "Venturer"

Two shots of the NASA "Venturer" as it sails past the point of view of the observer in the opening scenes of the short lived 1975 animated TV series.  We clearly are shown the NASA logo emblazened on her side. ("Return to the Planet of the Apes", 1975)

One theory is that, as happened in real life, the military used to be primarily responsible for all the space missions, hardware and training.  The USAF was actively working on its own 'man to the moon' project and building experimental rocket planes to train their pilots to be astronauts.  In reality, about 1960, there was a transition of power, from military to civil government authority.  America saw the handing of the torch from the military (mainly the USAF) to NASA (a public / government organization).  All responsibility thus fell to a non-military branch of the government and all further military testing and training was discontinued. In real life, there was no need for such duplication of effort, probably also to play down the militarization of space which was one of the greatest fears of that time.  In the harsh, technology driven Cold War atmosphere of the POTA movie series, there just may have been a viable need for two such space organizations; a military minded and controlled space agency and a civilian / government controlled space agency.

It is my theory that ANSA is the military branch of the space program and existed along the same time and in the same context as NASA.  ANSA and NASA might have been 'friendly rivals', but ANSA would have looked at NASA as 'civilians' and NASA would have looked at ANSA as 'stiff military types'. Both might have had similar goals and shared information freely.   Each would have approached the problem from (very) different angles.  It is highly possible that while NASA was trying to win the space race to the moon, ANSA may have been involved in a military race to the stars.  After all, political power is often also dictated by the amount of land and resources that you hold.  Russia was a far larger territory than America, but if America could not only put American colonies on the Moon and on Mars, and, perhaps, beyond, then possibly the sheer weight of so many Americans would crush the Russian military might without the need for war.

This could also explain why even though Colonel George Taylor, emphasis on the rank of Colonel, is launched by ANSA in 1972 but his ship (or a ship that is claimed to be his ship but that claim defies all logic... see below and here for further discussion) is recovered and gone over with a fine tooth comb by NASA a year later (Escape from the Planet of the Apes).  Dr. Hasslein probably worked for the United States government, maybe even the CIA or other clandestine organizations, and as such, was consulted on and worked with both agencies (as apparently is the case). Since both agencies are mentioned to exist within the movies, the logical answer is that one is the continuation of the military research and development and the other is a civilian version of the United States space program.

Another highly plausible explanation could be similar to what happened to the creators of the new classic sci-fi series; FARSCAPE.  When astronaut John Crichton was first going into space, he was intended to wear a NASA emblem on his flight uniform.  When this concept was sent to NASA for approval, NASA fired back that they wanted to have total script approval, which meant every single script had to be pre-approved by NASA in all aspects.   The writers felt that this was not possible, and instead of NASA being the logo on John Crichton's uniform, the writers instead gave him an IASA logo, which stood for International Aeronautical Space Administration, in order to avoid all of the red tape involved with dealing with NASA.  As it was, even the space shuttle which launches Crichton's "Farscape" test vehicle  in the first episode did not carry a name of any other space shuttle in existence; instead it carried the name of "Collaroy" which is a Northern Beaches suburb of Sydney, Australia.  The writers wanted no way left open for NASA to have a reason to 'officially' meddle with the plot or characters of the new show.

It would not take very much imagination to realize that during the height of the Cold War, NASA really might not have taken kindly to having their name and logo plastered onto the side of a doomed spaceship, and to be referenced to a movie about talking monkeys and the ultimate destruction of the United States of America through nuclear war with Russia.  That really couldn't have looked good from a public relations stand-point, especially with NASA being so close to actually putting a man on the Moon just a year later.  The mention of NASA in the second movie could also just be a actor's glib, a moment of mistake that the directors felt was too costly to go back and shoot and that they hoped would be overlooked (as evidently it was).   We all want to say "NASA" as that is something that we know of, more then than now.  Imagine an actor, memorizing a script, and the letters on the script read "ANSA" but the actor's brain just naturally rearranges the letters and he unconsciously says "NASA".  Kind of like what you would do if I printed the word "sotp sign" here.  You would probably read it as "stop sign" and then notice the spelling error, but maybe not before you said it aloud.

There are many, many possible explanations, but the last explanation seems the most likely from a 'real world' standpoint.  It was 1968, in another year, America was going to the Moon, ahead of Russia in the greatest technological leap in the history of Mankind and NASA probably did not want their name to be placed on a film about a doomed spaceship that strands astronauts far away from Earth with no chance to get back home.

That just wasn't very good PR on their part, which is understandable.

Or the world may never know the true reason.   Draw your own conclusions.


Q:   Who gave the ANSA spacecraft the name "Icarus"?

A:    A devoted POTA fan by the name of Larry Evans.  I believe the name originated about 1972...


Q:   Did the spacecraft have any other names before ANSA spacecraft?

A:    Not really.  The spacecraft has never had an 'official' name, from the studio, but on a rare test set of collectable / trading cards (a.k.a. "baseball cards") from Topps featuring scenes from the movie, the spacecraft is referred to in one instance as "Air Force One".

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CRASH LANDING!    Astronaut George Taylor commands Air Force One on its journey to a distant star.  He speculates that Earth has aged a few thousand years since their departure.  The space-ship attempts to land but crashes into a lake!

It was often referred to simply as the "recovery capsule" by studio personnel and some fans.

The name "Icarus" has apparently stuck among fans.   Both Monsters In Motion and Skyhook Models each produce model kits of this spacecraft under the name of "Icarus".  The SFMA produces their version of the model kit under the name "ANSA Spacecraft".   Kubrick produces a line of children's toys that includes a POTA collection.  The spacecraft that is included in the 'ape-o-naut' set is called the "Icarus".

Dave Ballard tells me that Comet Miniatures (UK) used to produce a vacuum formed kit of the "Icarus" circa 1989 to 1990 and sold it under the title of "The ANSA space shuttle".


Q:    When did the ANSA spacecraft first appear on film?

A:    1968, in the 20th Century Fox movie "Planet Of The Apes".


Q:    When else did the ANSA spacecraft appear on film?

A:    The ANSA spacecraft makes another appearance in the second of the 'Ape' movies, "Beneath The Planet Of The Apes".  This is a modified ANSA spacecraft in which we see more of the aft superstructure and apparently what is some form of landing gear so that the second ANSA spacecraft would set down like the LEM did on the moon.

The ANSA spacecraft appears again in the third movie, "Escape From The Planet Of The Apes" in which a much smaller version of the ANSA spacecraft is used, this is a three seater, side by side version with a modified hatch over the port side viewport for the astronauts to enter and exit the vehicle.

This final three seater version is also seen as the spacecraft that carries Verdon, Burke, and Jones back to Earth in the TV series of "Planet Of The Apes".  This version is apparently the same one used in the third movie.


Q:  Were parts of the ANSA spacecraft in the second movie, "Beneath the Planet of the Apes" actually parts from another spaceship, from a different science fiction series or movie?

A:  Yes.  The "landing gear" as seen in the wreckage of the spaceship in the second movie was actually the landing struts from the "Jupiter 2", as featured in the Irwin Allen TV series "Lost In Space".  The engine nozzle seen in the rear of the wreckage is actually from a USAF Titan missile.

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You will notice the landing struts, engine exhaust 'bell', and the two
'saucer' shaped landing pads for the struts (foreground and rear)

The POTA TV series would also reach back to Irwin Allen's "LIS" series for the sound effect for Virdon's spacecraft when it returns to Earth in the first episode of the TV series.   Jim Key tells me that this sound effect was lifted wholesale from the FX library of the "LIS" series and is, in fact, the sound of the main engines of the "Jupiter 2".

The seats in Taylor's spacecraft, from the original movie, would later be used in the 1990's science fiction TV series "Babylon 5".


Q:    Who designed the original ANSA spacecraft?

A:    William Creber, working for 20th Century Fox, came up with the initial design when given the outline of the script for the "Planet of the Apes".

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Q:    Who built the original ANSA spacecraft?

A:    William Creber and Holdereed Maxy worked together to design the original maquette and then the three foot (1m) miniature.  The full size set was later reproduced from dimensions taken from the miniatures.  The frontal fins / canards were added to the final design by Franklin Schaffner, who thought that the nose needed something 'extra'.  These canards were applied with the understanding that they were some kind of 'control jets' or that they enhanced the control of the spacecraft.


Q:  What was the original inspiration for the shape and design of the ANSA spacecraft?

A:  William Creber tells us that the inspiration for the ANSA spacecraft was based on concepts of the experimental Dyna-Soar vehicle tested by NASA in the '60's, and also the 'Winged Gemini' capsule which had additional aerodynamic canards added for extra maneuverability in the atmosphere upon reentry.  You can look at the Winged Gemini and see a family resemblence from the forward nose and the indented observation windows.

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The ANSA spacecraft more closely resembles the X20 Dynasoar, illustrated below complete with launch booster and Titan booster on reentry.

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X-20 on proposed interplanetary booster assembly, probably a modified Titan rocket.

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X-20 Dynasoar leaving Titan booster for glide path and reentry.

Creber says that the overall design of the ANSA spacecraft was designed around "what NASA was doing in those days..."


Q:    Where is the original three foot studio model now?

A:   According to an article in "The Modelers Resource", the original now resides in the Bob Burns museum. The author of the article visits the museum to take photos. The "Sci Fi & Fantasy International" magazine also credits Bob Burns for photo references.  I'm sure I also once read somewhere that William Creber has a version in his garden, converted into a bird bath! - Dave Ballard.

I'm not sure about the 'bird bath' reference, the way I heard it was that he had a copy stuck out in a small pond in his backyard, in effect, recreating the opening crash scene in miniature.  - ANSANAUT

Wes Carr contacted me and shared two photos that he took while at the Planet Hollywood restaurant in Orlando, FL.  The first is Taylor's flight suit and the second is the three foot studio miniature hung at a precarious angle up in the roof of the restaurant.  Thank you, Wes, for sharing these images with us.

Taylor's original flight suit on display at Planet Hollywood in Orlando, FL. 
Photo courtesy of Wes Carr.

The original "Icarus" model on display high up in the roof of the Planet Hollywood restaurant, Orlando, FL location. 

Photo courtesy of Wes Carr.


Q:  What ever happened to the original studio full scale Icarus mockup?

A:  What little information exists on the fate of the full size mockup of this spacecraft was offered by Tony Hardy via Dave Barkovitz and reposted here with Tony's permission.  Thanks, Tony, for sharing this information with the fans of this ship!  Maybe one day someone will come across more information on what happened to the mockup ... or someone will find it mounted on top of a sign at some family owned motel in the middle of nowhere.  That would be a find!

"Planet of the Apes" 1968 - The full scale spaceship mockup ended up in outside storage at the 20th Century Fox Ranch after it was used in the short lived 1974 "Apes" TV series. Here's a rare pic circa 1975 of the mockup at the Fox Ranch. The ranch was cleared of movie sets and props once Fox turned over the property to the state of California, so no one really seems to know what happened to this mockup. It was made of metal (not wood), so it could have gone to the scrapyard. There's a rumor of it ending up in front of a motel out in the desert. This is the only good pic that I've been able to uncover of this long lost prop shortly before it disappeared forever. Fortunately though, the Fox Ranch property is now Malibu State Park. It's a great place to hike and explore if you're ever in CA." -Tony Hardy


Q:   How many astronauts died during the various spacecraft landings?

A:    Four.  Stewart, Skipper, Jones, and Martinez.

Stewart, the first representation of an American female astronaut from "Planet of the Apes", died when her suspended animation chamber malfunctioned.  She was apparently dead for 6 months subjective time (or enough objective time (a few thousand years) to completely mummify her remains...) before the first ANSA spacecraft touched down.  Landon, Dodge, and Taylor didn't discover her body until they themselves awoke.  Many fans question the design of the ship life support systems, often asking where the life support indicators or warning symbols for life signs were?  Why the computers didn't wake Stewart up or notify the others of the danger in time so that they could help her is certainly open for discussion.  Her body is not recovered and sinks with the ship, still resting in her suspended animation chamber.  You can count this death either way you want to, either you believe she died in space, or you believe she is the first of the astronauts to die within their spacecraft.

wpeCB.jpg (6567 bytes)    Taylor discovers Stewarts mummified body...

Skipper dies shortly after he and Brent crash land in the second movie, "Beneath the Planet of the Apes".  He is buried by Brent close to the site of the second ANSA spacecraft crash as documented in the second movie.  "Skipper"  is the second astronaut to die in a reentry related crash.

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Jones (pictured below, far left) is apparently killed on impact in the first episode of the TV series "Planet of the Apes", his neck has been broken on impact.  His body is not recovered and is presumably destroyed when the gorillas find the spacecraft and blow it up with primitive explosives. 

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Jones is the third and final ANSA astronaut to die on reentry or landing, so the odds of your survival depend greatly on the number of other astronauts with you, apparently.  Casualty rates for ANSA spacecraft crews seem to run from 25% ("Planet of the Apes"), to 33% (TV series) to an astounding 50% ("Beneath the Planet of the Apes").  Not exactly a good performance record for the ANSA spacecraft.

Milo, an 'apeonaut' in the third movie, "Escape From The Planet Of The Apes", is killed shortly after landing on Earth, but this is not the fault of the spacecraft, or maybe these ships just bring really bad luck.  If you count Milo's death, we are back to another 33% casualty rate suffered.  In any event, with the exception of the animated series, if you ride in a ANSA spacecraft, one of you is going to die on reentry.  Better draw straws and cross your fingers when you do...

These spacecraft, as portrayed on film, are just not very user friendly or very safe for that matter ...

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NASA astronaut Martinez lies in state inside her failed
cryogenic chamber aboard the "Cassiopeia"

The NASA ships, on the other hand, seem to have a much better record for safety.  Both the "Venturer" and Ronald Brent's mysterious spacecraft land without any casualties.   The NASA "Cassiopeia", as featured in the Ubisoft video game "Planet of the Apes", again tries to retell the original story and includes a token dead female astronaut named "Martinez", bringing the count up to four dead astronauts.



Q:    How the  (expletives deleted) did three chimpanzee scientists, Cornelius, Zira, and Milo, manage to do all of the following:

A) Find Taylor's ANSA spacecraft.
B) Raise it off the bottom of the lake bed.
C) Repair all the damage to the ship.
D) Make it air tight again.
E) Replace the explosively detonated escape hatch.
F) Restore power to the ship?
G) Get the spacecraft (which doesn't have any engines!) back into Earth orbit.
H) Gut the interior, removing the four suspended animation chambers, getting rid of Stewart's body, and removing her seat.
I)  Rearrange the interior so that the three remaining seats are now mounted side by side, left to right.
J) Install a side opening hatch in the original ANSA spacecraft where one never existed before.
K) Figure out how to do any of this when they don't even believe that Ape can fly, let alone that Man is smart enough to fly (and it takes years to train an astronaut, but these primitive chimpanzees learned the same knowledge in just a few days poking and prodding...).

A:    Your guess is as good as mine and probably doesn't contain quite as many colorful and vulgar four letter descriptive adjectives joined together in a seemingly improbable but highly funny way.  See next question for my 'explanation'...

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And hitch a ride in a fully functional ANSA spacecraft!


Q:    Well, if it wasn't Taylor's spacecraft that came back to Earth in "Escape from the Planet of the Apes", then who's spacecraft was it?

A:     The best answer that I can give is that it was Brent's spacecraft, and a different one than we see in the second movie.  What this means is that Brent and Skipper arrived in two different spacecraft and that there are actually three spacecraft in the first two movies.   We know that Taylor's ship sinks, and it never had a side hatch.  Skipper's ship crashes and is a total loss in the second movie, but where did the three seater ANSA spacecraft with a side hatch come from?  It was Brent's ship, and it was off-camera the entire time.  See MISSION DETAILS for more information on this line of reasoning.

Shane Johnson presents a different line of reasoning on this as well: 

Just had a thought, and wanted to pass it along...

What if the ship used by Milo, Cornelius and Zira in 'Escape' was in fact Virdon's and Burke's?  Could the folks in 1971 have assumed that somehow it MUST have been Taylor's, because at that point only his had been launched?  Brent had not yet departed, and Virdon's and Burke's mission did not lift off until 1980, some nine years later...

In the TV pilot, we never saw it blown up, though we did hear an explosion.  Maybe Zaius only wanted the astronauts to THINK it had been destroyed, so they would not think they had a readily available way off the planet...

Could the ship have survived some 900 years, to be transported across country at some point and restored by Milo?  If so, he could have taken years or even decades in his work of getting it up and running again.

Just a thought...  Shane Johnson

Interesting!  A new angle on the mystery of the return spacecraft. 


Q:    What was the name of the spacecraft in the animated TV series?

A:    Astronauts Allen, Hudson and Franklin are launched from Earth in the NASA vessel "Venturer"


Q:   Why was the "Venturer" a "NASA" spacecraft and the "Icarus" a "ANSA" spacecraft?

A:    Artistic license?  Lack of really good communication between the animators and the original creators?  Who knows, but in the first episode of the animated series, "The Flames of Doom", we zoom in on the logo on the side of the "Venturer" and it clearly states "NASA" instead of "ANSA".  In fact, it is this very logo:

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The "Venturer" left Earth later than Taylor or Brent, so it could be theorized that "ANSA" became "NASA", just as in real life "NACA" became "NASA".  The "Venturer" was to leave Earth in 1979, seven full years after Taylor and his crew (as well as Brent and Skipper's rescue mission) left Earth.  The Earth, especially the United States, was in a lot of turmoil at that time (movie-fiction wise), so anything is possible.

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It could also just be simple artistic license on the part of the animators, who took it upon themselves to include several icons from the "Planet of the Apes" movies into their animated series.  Taylor and Allen are both referred to by the nickname "Bright Eyes" by the chimpanzee scientist "Zira".   Taylor, Allen, and Hudson land in 3479, this is 476 years before Taylor, Dodge, and Landon arrive on Earth.  The funny thing is, the animated series finds a brunette female savage named "Nova", a female chimpanzee scientist named "Zira", her husband, another chimpanzee scientist named "Cornelius", and a orangutan administrator named "Dr. Zaius", all nearly 500 years before they actually existed film wise...  Strange.

If anything, I would have to bank on artistic license.  The animated series had to be both new and fresh, but that didn't stop the animators from drawing heavily on the well established icons in the film series.  This act was not without some severe continuity consequences for the entire series...   It could also be a different time line, where ANSA didn't exist and NASA did...  For evidence on that, we have the facts that Dr. Hasslein is never mentioned, but a Dr. Stanton is.  Also, Brent is from the United States in the 21st century, long after the nuclear war and the destruction of most of the world as foretold in the original cinematic releases of the POTA movies.

It could also be argued that Virdon and Burke are not from the same Earth or timeline that Taylor and his crew are from, as evidenced by their finding a 'picture book' with a scene of New York city in the year 2503 AD, again far after the nuclear war.  

In the final movie, it is proved that if you know the future, you are not doomed to live it out.  Like a highway, you can change lanes to avoid an obstacle in the road and ... well, I digress.


Q:    In the animated series, the spaceship wasn't like the "Icarus", was it?

A:    No.  The animated series used a more 'traditional' space capsule which looked like a Mercury capsule only it was larger, big enough to sit three comfortably from side to side (hmmm.   Just like the three seater "Icarus"...).  The original Mercury capsules were doing good to seat one astronaut and all of his gear, but this spacecraft seems to be roomy inside, more so than even an Apollo command module.  The Venturer was also equipped with some strange equipment, like a self destruct charge (why?), no reentry parachutes (at least we don't see any when it splashes down in the first episode of the animated series), and a high powered, hand held laser drill which is little more than a portable laser gun (why did they need that in space?).   There was also at least one set of self contained breathing gear which Allen uses when he sets the self destruct charge and retrieves the much utilized, later episode / plot saving laser drill from the stricken "Venturer".


Q:    What is a filmography of the various 'Ape' movies and in which ones did spacecraft have a role?

A:    The various Ape films and series are as follows:

Year of Movie Movie Title Spacecraft featured
1968 Planet of the Apes ANSA "Icarus" - "Four seater with suspended animation berths"
1970 Beneath the Planet of the Apes ANSA "Icarus" - "Tail-lander"
1971 Escape from the Planet of the Apes ANSA "Icarus"- "Three seater"
1972 Conquest of the Planet of the Apes No spacecraft present
1973 Battle for the Planet of the Apes No spacecraft present
1974 Planet of the Apes (TV Series) ANSA "Icarus"- "Three seater"
1975 Return to the Planet of the Apes (animated TV series) NASA "Venturer"
2000 Planet of the Apes (Tim Burton remake) USAF "Oberon" / spacepods
2001 Planet of the Apes (Ubisoft video game) NASA "Cassiopeia"

It should be interesting to note that we have three American agencies in space according to the movies; ANSA, NASA and the United States Air Force (USAF).

Q:    Were there really *two* astronauts named "Brent"?

A:    Yes.  And two "Novas".  And two "Cornelius and Ziras", and two Dr. Zaius', and probably a few other doubles that existed out of time and space.

The first astronaut known as "John Brent" is part of a ANSA rescue mission dispatched to find Taylor's mission in the second movie, "Beneath The Planet Of The Apes".  Brent loses his commander, "Skipper", during a bad crash landing, links up with Nova, and eventually is shot and killed by gorilla soldiers in the fight for the underworld.

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Lieutennant John Brent

ANSA astronaut circa 3955 AD

In the animated series, "Return To The Planet Of The Apes", Astronauts Allen and Hudson are helping a primitive human woman (surprisingly) named "Nova" and her people.  The fact that this cannot be the 'same' "Nova" as Taylor meets is easy to determine since the animated series occurs some five hundred years before the original "Planet of the Apes" movie.   Another nail in this theory is the fact that Taylor himself named his new woman "Nova" and taught her to speak her name.  In the animated series, the woman already knows her name, and a few other words.  Nova, in the animated series like in the big screen series, has a set of American dog tags around her neck which piques the astronaut's curiosity.  These tags on the animated Nova's neck, however, do not belong to Taylor.  They belong to an American named "Brent, Ronald, Colonel, United States Air Force number 553386086, date of birth May 5, 2079" who apparently, left for space much, much later, nearly a hundred and fifty years (2109) after Allen, Hudson, and Franklin.  This scene occurs in the first episode of the animated series, "The Flames Of Doom".

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Colonel Ronald "Ron" Brent

NASA astronaut circa 3464 AD

In the seventh episode of the animated series, Allen, Hudson, and Franklin are helping the humans across a vast desert and come upon the mangled wreckage of yet a third type of American spaceship!!!!  This new type is unlike anything seen in either the movies, TV series, or the animated series until now and appears very 'retro-sci-fi' with rocket fins, smashed nozzles, etc.  What it might have looked like while it was intact is anyone's guess, but it is a beautiful wrecked ship.   Living among the decades old wreckage is a middle aged astronaut, with shaggy white hair, beard, and moustache.  The aging astronaut introduces himself as "Brent" and says that he was launched from the middle of the Mojave desert on August 6, 2109 AD.  This statement proves that America, the USAF, and NASA survive at least until that time, or at least on whatever lane of the time curve highway that he and the others come from, which may or may not be the same that the big screen Taylor and Brent come from.

When astronauts Allen, Hudson and Franklin explain that they were launched from Cape Kennedy, Brent explains that in *his* time, Kennedy was just a museum, no rockets were launched from there anymore.  This would mean that Cape Kennedy survives at least until 2019.  Allen, Hudson, and Franklin marvel at Brent, an astronaut who has been trapped on this same planet, who arrived 15 years before they did, but who wasn't born for nearly 100 years after they left Earth, and who himself didn't leave Earth for nearly a century and a half after they left!   Allen, Hudson, Franklin, Brent (#2), and Nova (#2)'s fates are all unknown...  see below for more interesting information on them.


Q:    Did this other ship, piloted by the other astronaut "Brent", in the animated series, have a actual name or proper designation?

A:    No.  To the best of my knowledge, the name of this mysterious type of American spaceship is never mentioned, nor is any name given or yet to be determined by the various fans.  Information on this third type of spacecraft is very sketchy at best.   Maybe someone will provide more information in the future or scratchbuild a model of it.


Q:   What were the various missions, what ships were involved, and when did they 'fail' or arrive back on Earth?

A:    The various missions are as follows, with their departure dates and arrival dates.

Classical Planet of the Apes movie spacecraft data

Mission Craft Launching
Astronauts Departure Date Arrival Date
"Icarus" ANSA water George Taylor, Dodge,
Stewart*, Landon
January 14, 1972(e) November 25, 3978(a)
Quoted as 3955 AD(b)
"Icarus"-type ANSA land "Skipper"*, John Brent June 1972 January, 3979
Quoted as 3955 AD(b)
"Icarus"-type (c) unknown water Cornelius, Zira, Milo* September 3978?
September 3955?
April, 1973(e)
"Icarus"-type ANSA land Alan Virdon, Peter Burke, Jones* March 1981 June 14, 3085(d)
March 21, 3085
"Venturer" NASA water Bill Allen, Jeff Hudson
and Judy Franklin
August 1979 February 3479
Unknown Type NASA land Ronald "Ron" Brent January (?) 2079 January 3459 or 3464 (?)

Tim Burton's Planet of the Apes remake spacecraft data

These space pods launch from the Oberon, a United States Air Force (USAF) operated space station / space ship.

Mission Craft Launching
Astronauts Departure Date Arrival Date
Delta Pod USAF water Leo Davidson unknown unknown
Alpha Pod USAF land Pericles (chimp) unknown unknown
Alpha Pod USAF water Leo Davidson unknown unknown

Ubisoft's Planet of the Apes videogame spacecraft data

Mission Craft Launching
Astronauts Departure Date Arrival Date
"Cassiopeia" NASA land Ulysses, Romulus,
Martinez*, Sophie
?? / ?? / 2125 AD 10-18-3889 AD

Astronauts with a * asterisk by their name die on the return or during landing.  Half of the ships make reentry over land and half of the ships portrayed in the "Planet of the Apes" series make reentry over water.  However, if you look at the landings via physical chronology of when the various movies and series appeared, and the appearance of the spacecraft within them, you get: water, land, water, land, water, land.   Strange, huh?  And so that means that, logically, the next spacecraft in the series will touch down in water. 

Guess what?

The space pod in the new "Planet of the Apes" movie crash lands in water, and Leo Davidson ejects underwater and has to swim away from his stricken spacecraft.  Is it a conspiracy or some bizarre plot circle?  Of course, this means that the next time a POTA spaceship appears, it will have to appear on land to complete the cycle.  Does Tim Burton deliver?  Yes.  At the end of the new Tim Burton POTA movie, the chimp returns in the spacepod and does a perfect landing (thus once again proving that simians make better pilots than humans!).  Leo Davidson the astronaut almost hijacks the spacepod, returns to Earth and crashes in Washington, DC, into the reflecting pool (water)!  If there ever is another POTA movie, and it involves a spaceship, my money is on it crashing on land again...

Update.  Sigh.  Do you see a pattern evolving here?  The Ubisoft video game "Planet of the Apes", released slightly after the Tim Burton film, features as yet another unknown spacecraft, the "Cassiopeia", and it crashes on ... land.  Also, the "Cassiopeia" leaves long after the other missions, and returns even before Taylor or Brent.

Just once, could we have one of these beautiful spacecraft NOT twat itself up into a ball of useless wreckage on reentry.   The trick is a bit cliched now as a plot introduction.

Here is a legend for the table above

(a) As seen in the first movie on the spacecraft chronometer before Taylor abandons ship.
(b) As quoted by John Brent in the second movie, from his reading of the chronometer in his spacecraft, taken right before reentry.  This later becomes the default time stated for Taylor's mission as well.  See (a) above.
(c) Is quoted as being "Taylor's ship" but could, more logically in fact, be Brent's unseen ship.
(d) The credits indicate that Virdon arrives in June of 3085, however, the chronometer in his ship shows that he returns in March of 3085.  Both readings could be entirely wrong, see discussion below.
(e) Appears to prove that a Hasslein Curve is or at least can be a two way phenomena.
(f) Arrived at by looking at chrono in Taylor's ship which says 7-14-1972.  Taylor then comments that in a few minutes, they will be finishing up 6 months of travel in deep space.  Take six months from the date of 7-14-1972 and you get January 14, 1972 as the launch date.

One interesting note is that the later the missions leave Earth, the sooner they return (in the far future) to Earth.  Whether this has any relevance or not is questionable, but it is worth noting.  The one exception / non-exception seems to be that of the second ANSA spacecraft, the spacecraft of John Brent who seems to arrive 23 years before Taylor, yet still be a few days / weeks / months behind him (see below).  If Brent left after Taylor, then logically, if the universe works according to what the writers have laid out, then he should rightly have arrived before Taylor, which would be correct if his chronometer was accurate in saying that he was on future Earth 23 years before Taylor's mission even arrived.

As for why these missions 'failed', almost all of these missions experienced a phenomena in space, a Hasslein Curve , commonly referred to as a 'bend in time', a 'slippage', and even a 'defect',  where gravity and light were bent, and therefore, time as well.  These 'orphaned areas of space' are at least speculated to exist by Dr. Hasslein if not ANSA, and curiously, apparently lay along the flight paths of the various interstellar missions.   Whatever you want to call these phenomenas, they are, for all practical purposes, the classic example of a "time warp".

Taylor and his crew apparently encountered a Hasslein Curve during their long flight, and may even have realized it, well, at least Taylor knew of the disaster that had fallen upon them.  Brent and Skipper followed Taylor's trajectory exactly and went into the same curve, along the same trajectory and thus arrived in the same era that the original mission did.  Because the trajectories were so close, this could account for the slight difference in time, and the fact that John Brent really did arrive after Taylor, even though he tells us that his chronometer says different.   See below for more information on this apparent misunderstanding.

Virdon's mission was to travel to Alpha Centauri.  His ANSA spacecraft's flight path apparently encountered some type of radioactive turbulence.  It is doubtful if Virdon or his crew ever reached Alpha Centauri...


Q: Did the NASA "Venturer" run into a Hasslein Curve or something different?

A:  The animated TV series utilizes a slightly different theme on this plot device though the end result is the same.  The NASA "Venturer" was undergoing testing of Dr. Stanton's Theory of Time Thrust when it encounters some kind of time warp in space and was subsequently (and unintentionally) propelled far into the future.

The "Venturer" must also have had some kind of limited gravity drive system installed as apparently the spacecraft splashed down without the use of recovery parachutes or any kind of braking thrusters, and the main engine pack did not burn off during reentry (like most Mercury capsule engines did...).  Given this visual data, we must assume that the astronauts were able to bring the "Venturer" in under powered flight, rather than simply entering the atmosphere in the traditional manner.  Typically space capsules returning to Earth and splashdown use deceleration parachutes to slow their descent.   Even using these parachutes, the capsules often strike the water surface at a bone jarring 20mph or more of impact speed.  Falling from space and not using these chutes or any engines to slow your descent would be a death sentence, therefore, the "Venturer" must use some type of non-reaction propulsion system to slow its descent and allow it to splash down without suffering catastrophic vehicle destruction in the process.

Ronald Brent also claims that he ran into something weird and crashed in this strange time though we are never fully told of the details.

Dr. Stanton's Theory of Time Thrust is an interesting piece of POTA mythos.  Apparently, the astronauts are not too disturbed about being several hundred years in the future initially, so you might propose that using Dr. Stanton's theory, and whatever propulsion system it uses to produce its effect, that the journey is a two way affair, thus we have all the makings for a time machine in space.  And since the astronauts never reveal an interstellar destination, it is possible to assume that the "Venturer" is nothing more than a space capsule, orbiting the Earth, and that during the testing of Dr. Stanton's theory and / or the engines that produce this effect, that the "Venturer" and its crew are thrown into the future while still in orbit around the Earth.  So much would appear to be true, as the "Venturer" does not return home to Earth, merely it is already in high Earth orbit when the time warp affects the craft.  The subsequent emergency reentry of the spacecraft marks the beginning of the adventure.


Q: Did Alan Virdon's ANSA spacecraft fall through a Hasslein Curve or did he and his crew encounter something different?

A: Alan Virdon and his crew may have encountered a different  phenomenon in space.  Again, we're talking semantics because one way or another, by one name or another, all the astronauts in the series run into what amounts to a time warp, even in the Tim Burton remake, it all equals out to a classic example of a time warp.  Call it a "Hasslein Curve" or whatever, the effect, as far as the plot of the various films, TV series, and cartoon, is the same regardless.  Here is the transcript of Alan Virdon's conversation with Peter Burke about what happened to their mission.

Burke:  "I don't even remember what happened..."

Virdon: "We were approaching Alpha Centauri ... ran into some radioactive turbulence and lost control. I told Jonesy to activate the automatic homing device."

Burke: "Did he do it?"

Virdon: "Well, we landed somewhere.  It could be Earth."

Burke: "Yeah or any of a thousand other lousy planets."

There is evidence that Virdon's spacecraft was propelled by a much more advanced drive system, possibly a true faster than light system.  The ability to go from Earth to Alpha Centauri in a single day would suggest a FTL type propulsion system.  The often discussed 'automatic homing device' could also mean that the ship was preprogrammed to return to Earth in the event of an emergency.

Virdon mentions two phenomenon in his conversations with Burke; radioactive turbulence and a time warp.  Whether these are one in the same is debateable, or one could have lead to the other, such as the radioactive turbulence throwing the FTL drive system / warp drive into imbalance and creating the time warp.  Looking at the events in the movie, it is clear that Virdon and his crew encountered the time warp on the way back home. 

And so the adventure begins.  You are free to draw your own conclusions.


Q:  Were there any other spacecraft mentioned in the series?  Any other flights?

A: Yes.  At least one other flight is mentioned in the opening episode of the POTA TV series entitled "ESCAPE FROM TOMORROW".  We are not sure of the launch date of this flight, but it arrived back on Earth, in the far future, ten or so years before Virdon and Burke returned.   Here is a conversation between Zaius and Galen, and then between Zaius and Urko with Galen present.

ZAIUS:    (reading the note from the Prefect regarding the discovery of Virdon and Burke's spaceship) It’s not possible.

GALEN:    Whats the matter sir?

ZAIUS:    Did you ever have a recurring nightmare?  That no matter how swiftly you try to escape destruction that it always reappears directly in front of you.

Zaius hands the note to Galen who reads it quietly.

GALEN:    I don’t understand, sir.  Humans are laborers, farmers, and … and servants.  They’re not technicians!  This is pure … this is pure fantasy!

ZAIUS:    Destruction is not fantasy, Galen!  You have a great deal to learn.

Later, General Urko is called in to discuss the importance of Virdon and Burke.  He reads the memo from the Prefect regarding the discovery of a crashed spaceship and the two ANSA astronauts.

URKO:    Another ship, Zaius?  It’s hard to believe.

ZAIUS:    Can the chief of security afford not to believe it?

URKO:    How reliable is this Prefect?  Do you know him?

ZAIUS:    Galen does.

GALEN:    Oh, I don’t believe a word of it.  How can humans build a run such a machine when even we can’t do it?

URKO:    Who is this fool, Zaius?

ZAIUS:    Galen is going to be my assistant.  Maybe.

Zaius rises.

ZAIUS:    There were three humans, Urko.  One is dead.  The other two must be found quickly.

URKO:    Yes.  And killed.

ZAIUS:    NO!  Brought back.  Questioned by the high council.

URKO:    This is an infection, Zaius!  One doesn’t question it!  One wipes it out!  Just as we did before!

ZAIUS:    NOT until we question its source!  More than 10 years ago, another such ship landed.  Humans.  They said that they were from this world, but another time period, long ago.

GALEN:    I’ve heard stories like that but I always thought that they were stories.  I never believed that they had happened.

ZAIUS:    Well, yes, that is what we wanted everyone to think.  There were such humans, Galen.  They called themselves… what was the word, Urko?

URKO:    Ass-truh-nauts.

ZAIUS:    Astronauts.

URKO:    Yah.

GALEN:    Astro-nauts?  What were they like?

ZAIUS:    They had greater knowledge and capabilities than our humans.   And they had feelings of independence and freedom.

GALEN:    Hmm.  That’s fascinating!

ZAIUS:    Not fascinating, Galen!  Unlawful!  They would have encouraged our humans to be equally unlawful…

URKO:    But the danger was eliminated.  They were killed.

ZAIUS:    BEFORE they could be QUESTIONED!

URKO:   MY job is PROTECTION!  Not the gathering of useless information.

ZAIUS:    NO information is useless.  We have to learn how they think, Urko, what makes them different from the humans we know.  Once we learn how to deal with them, and any others that may come along, THEN they can be killed.

Urko reluctantly agrees and stomps out of Zaius' office

ZAIUS:    You will go along to see that nothing happens to these … astronauts.  I don’t trust Urko.

GALEN:    Oh, he won’t listen to me, sir.

ZAIUS:    You carry my authority when you go as my representative.

GALEN:    Yes, sir.

ZAIUS:      I notice a certain lack of enthusiasm.  You may have a chance to visit your second cousin on your mother’s side…

GALEN:    Oh, to tell you the truth, sir.  I never really liked him that much.  So these, uh, these astronauts… are they truly different than the humans we know?

ZAIUS:    ABSOLUTELY!  And they are a THREAT.  However… I want them alive.  For now.

GALEN:    It’s a shame that they have to be killed at all.  You make them sound so interesting.

We do not know the names of these astronauts, how many astronauts there were, or what their mission / destination was.  All we know is that they arrived a decade or so before Virdon, Burke, and Jones, that the astronauts were killed before they could be questioned (executed by gorilla soldiers most likely) and that this incident not only spooked the apes, but also gave them general knowledge of the existence of both astronauts and spaceships.  Enough knowledge so that when Virdon lands back on Earth, the apes know what he is, as well as what his spacehip is.


Q:    The chronometer in Taylor's spacecraft gives a reading of November 25, 3978 for the time which Taylor and his crew return to Earth.  We know that Brent lands after Taylor, by several days or several weeks, yet Brent says that the chronometer on his spacecraft gave a reading of 3955 AD.   And the trailers for the second movie begin with a statement that the year is 3955 AD.  Brent's time is stated as being 23 years before Taylor even arrived!   Which then, is the correct time reading?

A:     Excellent question, which should be a lesson to anyone making a sequel to a block buster movie; check the dates and facts of the first movie before you finalize the script for the sequel otherwise you are going to have fan problems and gripes!  To tell you the truth, I'm not sure at this point in time.  I originally said that Taylor's reading is the correct reading, because that is also what WE as the audience see. 

earth-time.jpg (2604 bytes)

Landon: "That means we've been away from Earth for 18 months."

Taylor: "Our've gone gray. Apart from that, you look pretty chipper for a man who's 2,031 years old. I read the clocks. They bear out Hasslein's hypothesis. We have been away from Earth for 2,000 years...give or take a decade. Still can't accept it, huh? Time's wiped out everything you ever knew. It's all dust."

The reference to "...give or take a decade." by Taylor may mean that it is understood that this is new technology, new means of operating, and as such, it can be incorrect, especially given what they have all been through.   When Taylor says "...give or take a decade.", this could mean that there is an inherent error factor built into the clocks the farther they have to read.  Maybe after a certain point, the error factor starts to get larger.  And could you assume that the reference Taylor makes means that a 23 year difference is perfectly conceivable?  The reference to give or take a decade, notice, can also mean that Taylor could either be 23 years plus or minus his actual arrival time.  And if the flight is twenty-three years off, then the day and week are almost also certainly incorrect as well.  Other than that, we simply have the announcer for the sequel movie trailer, and Brent's word for what he saw on his spacecraft (which we did not see ourselves).

Brent:        "Skipper, I took an Earth time reading just before reentry."

Skipper:    "What did you get?"

Brent:        "Three niner five five."

Skipper:    "Three thousand nine hundred and fifty five..."

Brent:        "A.D."

However, according to 'official' time lines as stated in the movies, the official time for Taylor's arrival is 3955 AD, not 3978 AD. This much is stated in the second movie by Brent, and in the third movie by Zira who states that the Earth was destroyed in 3955.  I believe in the third movie that NASA and other scientific agencies going over the spacecraft confirm this date, so obviously the 'tweaking of the clocks' theory bears some validity, if the same reading was obtained upon fully traversing the Hasslein Curve in both directions.  By the 5th movie, when Caesar visits the archives to view tapes of his parents, we find that the date that Zira states is somewhat garbled on the last digit, and so Caesar arrives at the 'official' figure of 3950 A.D. as the year for the arrival of Taylor and Skipper's flight as well as the destruction of the Earth.

One extrapolated explanation for the discrepancy between Taylor's and Brent's reading is that either Taylor's or Brent's spacecraft is suffering severe malfunctions from the effect of the phenomena or Hasslein Curve and that could include a residual or spill over effect on the chronometer.  On the other hand, since Brent says that they (he and Skipper) followed Taylor's trajectory, and they left after Taylor did, it might be assumed that ANSA and Dr. Hasslein have somehow 'modified' the second flight's chronometer to be more accurate, or somehow shielded it from the effects of the phenomena / Hasslein Curve.  These modifications could easily be based upon data received regarding the phenomena up until the point that Taylor's flight quit transmitting telemetry and data.  That would be a more logical explanation, that the clocks on the second flight are somehow 'tweaked' to compensate for any of the effects of the Hasslein Curve / bend in time, and thus, may not suffer from the 'give or take a decade or two' that Taylor mentions.

The most obvious explanation, however, is that the script writers simply didn't check their facts before writing the script.   Somewhere, someone in Hollywood goofed big time, and that goof has created a problem of continuity for the fans ever since!


Q:    Why does the chronometer on Virdon's ship appear to be broken and what is the story behind that rumor?

A:  The POTA series was never one known for keeping accurate track of dates used in the overall plot, a mistake which has caused all manner of continuity problems for fans in the decades since.  The main problem was Taylor's ship chronometer reading 3978 AD and in the sequel, Brent saying that even though they arrived after Taylor, that the date on their ship was 3955 or 23 full years earlier than we see Taylor land.  This problem is compounded in the opening scenes of the POTA TV series, where the Earth / Ship time starts out as being August 19, 1980.   Both clocks start out on the same date.  As the opening credits roll, we see the Earth time chronometer rapidly advance from August 19, 1980 up to June 14, 3085 AD.   What fans noted was that during this time, the subjective ship time never changed at all!

wpe85.jpg (3780 bytes) Happy Birthday, Cindy!
Staring chronometer reading
(opening credits)
Final chronometer reading
(opening credits)

However, even this time reading is wrong!  When the astronauts return to their spacecraft, we see that the Earth time chronometer has stopped on March 21, 3085, or almost three months before the time stated in the opening credits!

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Chronometer reading displayed when unit inspected by Alan Virdon and Peter Burke.

In this image, you will also notice that, while the Earth time (objective) chronometer is still (arguably) working, the ship time (subjective) clock is no longer working (the blank bottom display) and possibly hasn't worked for some time.  The damage to the interior of the spacecraft is quite extensive, and perhaps the chronometer was damaged somehow in the act of the apes taking apart the ship from the inside out.

So, if the credits show that Virdon arrived on June 14, 3085, and the ship time chronometer shows that he arrived on March 21, 3085, when did Virdon truly arrive back on Earth?  It's all up for debate.  So why does the ship time show August 1980 in the beginning, and the ship time never changes? 

I have a few thoughts on this:

1) The chronometer is malfunctioning.  For the chronometer to be accurate, Virdon would have to be using some kind of advanced warp drive which allowed him and his crew to go from Earth to Alpha Centauri in one standard day or less.  I don't see that as being technically feasible in the range of the POTA technology as presented.  If it was, why would you need suspended animation like Taylor and his crew used?  If the chronometer is malfunctioning, there is evidence to this argument given in the episode "Escape from Tomorrow":

Burke:  “The year 3085… more than a thousand years in the future!”

Virdon:  Marvelous.”

Burke:  “And maybe further.  That’s when it (the chronometer) stopped working.”

2) Warp drive!  Of course, the other side of the argument is that Virdon's spacecraft obviously had no suspended animation facilities and their ship has no access way to any other part of whatever drive section they were attached to (by the lack of any exit from the spacecraft other than the side door), so perhaps ANSA did actually invent some kind of faster than light drive between the time that Taylor left Earth and the time that Virdon left Earth.   If so, then it was capable of traveling at speeds in excess of the speed of light, or able to cover over a parsec and a half at the minimum within a single day.

I'm leaning more towards Virdon's spacecraft possessing a true FTL drive system, more on that here.


Q:    How fast was Taylor and his spacecraft traveling when we first see them?

A:    Well, this is one for you math junkies out there, but I doubt if the 'physics' of the movie have any bearing in the real world of if you can even get close to a 'correct' or better yet, 'scientifically correct' answer.   In all probability, the time shift that we see in the movie will probably turn out to be for a velocity beyond the speed of light BTSOL (C+) instead of approaching the speed of light ATSOL (-C).  I will be surprised if the math comes out close, though.  Pleasantly surprised.   Here is the problem for you to solve.  When we first see Taylor dictating his final report, he turns to the chronometer and checks the date.  The date (Earth time) is given as March 23, 2459 AD.  By the time that Taylor finishes his 'report' and glances over, the Earth time is now March 27, 2459 AD meaning that during this short period of subjective time, that objectively, in the space that it took for Taylor to sign off, four full days have passed on Earth.

This spacecraft is hauling ass, at least in objective time, which apparently is being artificially accelerated beyond what their assumed vehicle speed would indicate!  Objectively, the Earth has aged four full days and then some in the space of a few minutes aboard the racing spacecraft. 

The first person to correctly give me the answer and show me their scratch work (so I can show it here as well) gets their answer and their name displayed here, in answer to this question, for posterity's sake.  So get out your calculators and scratch sheets of paper and start that number crunching!


Q:   Was "Skipper" really the name of Brent's commander, or was this a reference to his position and military rank?

A:    I believe that when Brent refers to his commanding officer as "Skipper", this is in reference to his rank and position within the mission command chain structure and not a direct reference to the man's actual name.  The term "skipper" is used in both the USAF and the USN as a colloquial term of respect for a commanding officer.  In the sitcom "GILLIGAN'S ISLAND", the captain of the S.S. Minnow had a real name (I think it was given in the pilot on a radio news broadcast, something like "Jonas somebody"...) but the first mate (Gilligan) and the passengers simply referred to him as 'Skipper' instead of his real name.  I think the same thing is happening in the second movie, and that Brent's commander has a real name (like John Smith) but that we never know it.  To us, and to Brent, he is just 'skipper' as in 'the officer in charge of the mission / flight'.  It is interesting to see the general use of this term is found even in the first movie when Landon addresses Taylor by the term 'skipper' as evidenced below:

Landon: Well, where are we? Do you have any notions, Skipper?

Taylor: We're some 320 light years from Earth on an unnamed planet in orbit around a star in the constellation of Orion. Is that close enough for you?


Brent:         "No.  No.  Skipper.  It's me again.  Just me."

Skipper:    "Brent?"

Brent:         "Sir?"


This to me proves that the term 'skipper' is simply used as a term for a superior officer and is used (mostly) out of respect.  It does not refer to the actual physical name of the astronaut who dies from injuries sustained in the crash we see in the second movie.

Steve Temple sent me email with this image that I have never seen before.  I own the entire POTA series on DVD yet I could not duplicate this angle so this might be a pre-production still.  Steve has done some excellent work on the digital enhancement of "Skipper's" name tag.  Draw your own conclusions.

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"I came across an image of Brent and the Skipper you've probably already seen. I was able to open the file and adjust the lighting around the Skipper's name tag. I've attached the file so you can see for yourself. The last few letters appear to be "ADDOX" or "RDOCH." It's hard to say, but it could be "MADDOX" or "MURDOCH." At first, I thought it was Landon's name tag, but it definitely appears to be something different. I wish I had the DVD or a high-res image of that B/W photo... Any thoughts?"

-Steve Temple

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The image in debate is taken from Phil Broad's excellent website.  The image link is found here.   Thanks to Steve Temple and Mark Longmire for the links to the costume picture.   Go there if you want to see a truly large version of the image above and make your own decision.

I'd say it looks like "-ADDOX" myself which lends to either "Haddox" or "Maddox".  The mystery gets a little clearer.  Thanks, Steve, for the submission and the research.  I believe that this is a pre-production still, as in the actual movie, on the DVD, the top front flap of Skipper's suit is pulled down farther, completely covering both his name tag and the ANSA logo. Doing a frame by frame scan of the DVD, I could not duplicate this angle or scene so this has to be a PR image.

CONCLUSION-  Wes Carr sent me the following link which lists the credits for "Beneath the Planet of the Apes."  In the listing of the cast, Tod Andrews (1914 to 1972) is credited with playing "Skipper" who is also listed in parenthesis as "Captain Maddox."

"Captain Maddox" it is.  Mystery solved.


Q:   What military ranks did any of the astronauts hold?

A:    We only know of five of the astronaut's ranks and can presume a fifth by inference.

George Taylor (POTA), Alan Virdon (POTA TV series), and Ronald Brent (POTA animated series) all held the rank of Colonel in the United States Air Force.

Stewart is referred to as 'our lovely lieutenant Stewart' by Taylor in the first movie, so we know that she held this rank.

In the third movie, Dodge is referred to by a government inquiry board as "Lieutenant Dodge", thus giving him a military rank and raising question with my earlier theory that Dodge was merely a civilian on a military flight (similar to Christa McAuliffe, the school teacher who was aboard Challenger) rather than an actual officer.

Burke: "Galen!   When you signed up for this outfit you got stuck with obeying orders from the commanding officer, Colonel Alan Virdon." -POTA TV series, Episode 5, "The Legacy"

I also believe that Brent's commander, "Skipper", in the second movie, was also a colonel in the USAF, since that rank apparently is the standard for being in command of either an ANSA or NASA flight, according to the movies and series, but this is only a presumption based on what is given to us, and can't be truly verified.

After watching the POTA TV Series episode entitled "The Interrogation", we learn more about Burke.  As Burke is being interrogated and brain washed by a female chimpanzee scientist (who is using a book on brain washing written to fascist standards by humans long ago!), Burke gives out the following information under duress:

"My name is Burke, Peter J.  Rank: Major.  Service number 0047366897."

This leads us to theorize that possibly at least one of Taylor's crew, perhaps Landon, also may have had the rank of Major, as may have Brent from the second movie.  Interesting indeed.

No rank is given for any of the three NASA astronauts in animated TV series though we can assume that since Ronald Brent is a colonel, then Bill Hudson must also be of the rank of Colonel.

If you know of any other ranks or personal informatoin, as stated in the movies, books, novels, etc. of these astronauts, please let me know.


Q:    Didn't both the TV series and the animated series of "Planet of the Apes" end in the same way ... up in the air ... so to speak?

A:    Yes!  Ironically, both alternate ape based series ended in a very similar fashion and again, ironically, both series only lasted thirteen episodes apiece before being cancelled!   In the TV series, ANSA astronauts Virdon, Burke, and their chimpanzee companion Galen, were last seen piloting a primitive hang-glider, flying over the rugged coast and into the unknown, escaping from Apes who didn't believe that man or ape could fly.

In the animated series, we lost track of NASA astronaut Colonel Ronald Brent in the "Mission of Mercy" episode 12 (Brent did not appear in the "Battle of the Titans" episode 13 which would be the last of the animated series so what happens to him is still unknown).

During the last episode of the animated series, we find astronaut Bill Hudson and chimpanzee scientist Cornelius cast aloft in a primitive balloon, returning to New Valley with a book, entitled "A Day At The Zoo" which Cornelius will present to the Ape Council to prove that intelligent Man existed before intelligent Ape and was civilized well before Ape was.

The animated series, like the TV series ended 'up in the air' so to speak with the final scenes being of astronauts aloft in the air with an ape companion onboard a primitive flying device, vanishing off into the unknown.   We really don't know what happened to Virdon, Burke, Galen, Hudson, Allen, Franklin, or Ronald Brent after that...

Supposedly, a fourteenth episode of the animated series, entitled "A Date with Judy", was never produced, though the script for this episode did make it into production as an accompanying book to the animated series or so the story goes.  However, Rich Handley emailed me recently to give some information on what appears to be a POTA myth.

"A Date With Judy" is not actually an unfilmed episode, but rather just the original title for the episode, "The Unearthly Prophecy," which did air.  When William Rostler wrote the novelization, he was using an early draft of the script, which had the prior name.  Several websites have made this error over the years.  Just thought you'd want to know!"

- Rich Handley

Well that solves that.  Thanks, Rich!

Several years later, there would be a cult classic movie called "Clash of the Titans", based on the heroes of Greek mythology.   Coincidence, or did the makers of that movie draw upon the title of the last "Planet of the Apes" animated series episode "Battle of the Titans" for the name for their movie?


Questions or comments?


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