Photo: great jumping galaxies, it's the pilot of the future himself... Dan Dare. Image by kind permission of the Dan Dare Corporation ltd.
The 1950s cartoon, space-travelling hero, Dan Dare has touched down at the Museum of Science & Industry in Manchester for a cosmic double bill of exhibitions on until January 18, 2004.
Alongside Destination Mars, which examines modern efforts to investigate the red planet, Dan Dare: Pilot of the Future offers the inside track on the fact and fiction of space exploration.
"This is a thrilling double bill that will explore all possibilities in space exploration from the very real to those that need a more creative imagination," said Acting Museum Director, Bob Scott.
Photo: holding onto his space boots, Eagle enthusiast David Britton takes a tour of the galaxy with some top Dan Dare memorabilia.
"It is an exhibition for all ages to enjoy and I can imagine grandparents sharing Dan Dare stories with their grandchildren. The exhibition is the highlight of an air and space season at the museum."
Conceived by Southport Clergyman Marcus Morris and created by Frank Hampson, Eagle magazine and the cartoon adventures of Dan Dare became an instant success in the 1950s.
At a time when pioneering developments in space travel were hitting the headlines, Dan Dare, battling with aliens and thwarting global disaster, captured the imaginations of young and old.
Photo: battling with aliens and avoiding global disasters, it's all in a day's work. Image by kind permission of the Dan Dare Corporation ltd.
Through artwork, memorabilia and merchandise from the famous cartoon, visitors can follow the adventures of Dan and his crew as they set off from the HQ of Interplanet Spacefleet.
Considered to be the largest exhibition of Dan Dare ephemera to date, the show also includes a wide range of artefacts and items used in a mock-up of the original artists studio in Epsom.
Of course, Dan was pure science fiction, but with such ideas as blasting off in a shuttle and using a space suit, he wasn’t a million miles away from the real story of space exploration.
Photo: David Britton gets to grips with his hero while fellow Eagle fan Howard Smith provides a dramatic backdrop.
For the low-down on how the Brits have set about emulating Mr Dare, visitors can explore the story of the British Space Programme 1955-1971, to see how it was done in real life.
But to bring the story bang up to date, you'll need to have a look around the Museum of Science & Industry's other fascinating current exhibition, Destination Mars.
Throughout September Mars was visible in the night sky, coming the closest it had been to Earth in an amazing 60,000 years.
Photo: if there really is life on Mars will it look like this and will we be sending Dan up there to keep it in line? Image by kind permission of the Dan Dare Corporation ltd.
Furthermore, with the recent launch of the Beagle 2 Voyager mission to Mars, we are perhaps getting nearer to fully understanding our red neighbour.
In Destination Mars, gallant explorers can learn everything we know about the red planet, using interactive displays to re-live its history and discover the breadth of scientific knowledge about it.
And for those looking to find out what it's like being Dan Dare, there's a chance to command the kind of cross-country robot that scientists - and perhaps the odd interplanet traveller - use to survey the distant Mars surface.