Starship Modeler - The complete information source for modelers who build sci-fi, fantasy and real space subjects

By Vince Hoffmann - images & text © 2004

Media: DVD - encoded for all regions
Running Time: 2 hours +
MSRP: $19.95 USD (~$ 25.09 CAN/ 15.93 EUR ) plus postage available from
Overall Rating: 9 - see review

The premiere offering for is a DVD package entitled Little Joe: Mercury's First Steps, which focuses on a little-known chapter from the early days of America's space program. This is the first compilation of Little Joe pad camera footage available in this format. What follows is a section by section look at what you get on the DVD, with a brief description of each.

Front menu: Little Joe Mercury's First Steps

Chapter 1 - Play the Film

Play the Film The first selection contains 12 chapters, narrated with historical and technical information.

[Front cover]

[Back cover]

^ Back cover

Spanning the development of the Little Joe rocket system from conception through conclusion and application of test results, this 22 minute long documentary style presentation contains captivating assembly, testing and launch pad footage. The narrative is informative, but difficult to hear because the background music is somewhat loud at times.

Play with Modeler's Notes Narrated by James Duffy, Sven Knudson and David Carlton. This 12 chapter, 22 minute long section is a compilation of still photos, assembly and flight footage with interesting comments and narration keyed to the images. The commentary revolves around currently available kits, methods of scratch building and where to find reference materials. This chapter is interesting to listen to and you'll need a pen and paper to keep track of all the websites and reference materials mentioned here.

Chapter 2 - Little Joe in Detail

Prototype Flights This chapter focuses on prototype flights LJ6, LJ1A, LJ2 and LJ1B. Pad camera and tracking cameras provide a variety of views of the prototype rocket and Mercury capsule prototypes. There are 4 chapters, each approximately 8:30 long, in color with no sound.

Production Flights This chapter focuses on production flights LJ5, LJ5A and LJ5B. Pad camera and tracking cameras provide dramatic views of each launch including a delayed ignition (hangfire) launch and testing of the Mercury escape tower and parachute recovery system. There are 3 chapters each approximately 9:30 long, in color with no sound.

Booster Construction This chapter looks at booster construction with shop footage showing fabrication and construction of the thrust structure, fuel tanks and fins. The chapter is 25:42 long, in color with no sound.

Chapter 3 - Special Features

Little Joe Photographs This contains a mixed variety of black and white still photos of the Mercury capsule mockups, booster assembly and pad footage.

Mercury Suit Testing This chapter contains various flight suit, pressure suit and space suit fitting, testing and astronaut training footage. The chapter is 8:35 long, in color with no sound.


I found this disk to be very informative and is a good value. I recommend this disk to anyone who is interested in the history of the US manned space program.

Many thanks to James Duffy of and Starship Modeler for providing this DVD for review.

Please note that the opinions expressed in this article are those of the reviewer.
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This page copyright © 2004 Starship Modeler™. First posted on 17 November 2004.