Steps on the moon

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Photo of a model of Tintin on the moon in front of their moon rocket
Captain Haddock, Tim and Professor Bienlein in space suits
(from left, characters in the Belgian Comic Strip Center , 2011)

Steps on the moon ( French original title: On a marché sur la Lune ) is the seventeenth Tintin album by the Belgian illustrator Hergé . The band released in 1954 is the direct continuation of Destination Moon , describing the adventures of Tim , Snowy , Captain Haddock and Professor Calculus on the moon . It was translated into German by Ilse Strasmann .


Continued from Destination Moon

The ground station is getting nervous: The radio calls are still unanswered into the night. Even the strangers who eavesdrop on the radio traffic are slowly getting impatient, but the mission should go ahead as planned.

Struppi is the first to regain consciousness - as if Hergé had known that the first signs of life from space came from a dog . Struppi wakes Tim, who can finally find out that everyone on board made it through the take-off unscathed: himself, Haddock, Bienlein and the engineer Wolff. The first surprise is immediately: the two Schultzes are also on board! They actually wanted to guard the rocket to prevent sabotage the night before it took off. But they missed the fact that the start was set at 1:34 in the morning, not at 13:34 the following day. The biggest problem that this now poses is the limited oxygen supply. This was of course calculated for four people and not for six (without Struppi).

The captain takes care of the next scandal: he gets drunk with his smuggled whiskey . Because the artificial gravity fails at the same time , since Schulze accidentally switched off the rocket's drive, he tries, astonished, to get the liquid, which has formed into spheres, back into his glass. While the rocket crosses Adonis' orbit , he completely loses his mind and leaves the rocket to return to Mühlenhof Castle - fortunately in his spacesuit. Tim has to use a few tricks to recapture the captain, who has become Adonis' satellite, and bring him on board. This time it is Tim who gives a lecture - a profession that is otherwise reserved for the captain.

When the professor tries to explain the “reversal maneuver” for the rocket to his companions - the rocket is to be turned so that its engine is now pointing towards the moon in order to slow it down - an alarm sounds, alerting them to the fact that it is on a collision course with a meteorite are. The professor is completely calm and trusts that his automatic control unit will avoid this danger independently. When asked whether they would actually have been pulverized in an impact, he dryly explains that that would not be the worst, but that he would have had to start his calculations from scratch.

The Hipparchus Crater (NASA image)

Bienlein chose the Hipparchus crater as the landing site. This is near the lunar equator. The French name of the crater cirque Hipparque leads to all sorts of jokes, mainly at the expense of the two police officers who are looking forward to seeing a circus performance again. The captain also heard that the circus is looking for two clowns ...

Otherwise, the two Schultzes don't exactly make the most intelligent impression. So they initially refuse to lie down for the landing because they are not tired at all. At the command of the professor, they obey, but at first put on pajamas because one does not lie down with clothes.

As a result of the rocket's braking power, the passengers are now passed out again. However, with the automatic control, the rocket touches down cleanly on the earth's satellite. After everyone has come to, Tim has the great honor of being the first to step on the moon. When he steps on the moon, Hergé almost anticipates the scene that went around the world on July 21, 1969 :

«Ça y est! ... J'ai fait quelques pas! ... Pour la première fois sans doute dans l'histoire de l'humanité,

“The time has come! I took a few steps! Without a doubt for the first time in human history there were

After Tintin, the captain and Struppi also set foot on the moon - a spacesuit was also designed for the dog. Then the rocket begins to unload. The technical equipment and the moon vehicle, a fairly large tracked vehicle , are unloaded.

After the equipment and tank are assembled, they set out to explore the moon. In a cave Tim first discovers stalagmites and stalactites and finally even ice.

While the captain with the two Schultzes and the professor set out on a longer exploratory trip, Tim stays behind with Wolff in the rocket and repairs a defective radio. At the same time, Wolff begins to behave very strangely. He becomes extremely nervous for no apparent reason and does not want to accept Tim's offer to help him in the hold. It soon becomes clear why, because now Colonel Jorgen enters the scene. With Wolff's help he had hidden on board the rocket and is now knocking Tim down and handcuffing him. Jorgen had already been Tim's adversary in King Ottokar's scepter , where he had instigated an intrigue against the king. Jorgen tells Wolff to immediately begin the rocket launch sequence and leave the others on the moon. Wolff doesn't think this is good, but Jorgen explains to him that otherwise there would not be enough oxygen on board. Obviously, the rocket and with it the research results are supposed to be stolen.

The launch of the rocket fails, however, because Tim was able to free himself in time and sabotage the engine. Wolff and Jorgen are tied up, and Wolff admits his mistake, since he understands what a bad person Jorgen is and what he got himself into. He had been blackmailed by unknown but wealthy people for paying off his gambling debts. Jorgen offered to help him if he wouldn't betray him. The two are tied in the hold. The team now faces the problem that the rocket has been damaged by Tim's sabotage and the oxygen supply has been reduced again. Although the captain wants to leave both prisoners on the moon, Tim does not agree.

The rocket is ready to take off three days later, just as the lunar day is drawing to a close. Again the crew members passed out on take-off, but otherwise everything worked as planned. After the start, however, the two policemen's nausea ensures that Jorgen can free himself. He wants to shoot Tim, Haddock and the professor so that there is enough oxygen left for him. In the scramble that ensues when Wolff throws himself in between, a shot is fired and Jorgen himself killed.

Now the oxygen is getting really scarce and breathing becomes more difficult. Wolff, who had regained Tim's trust, suddenly disappears from the dormitory while the others are asleep. The captain, not yet so sure of his true repentance, is looking for him. However, he only finds one remorseful farewell letter. The engineer left the rocket and sacrificed himself to allow the others to return to Earth.

Breathing is now hardly possible. With all his strength, Tim manages to activate the automatic controls for the landing before he too passes out. The rocket touches down safely on Earth, but there are no more signs of life. A hole is immediately cut in the missile and the passengers are carried outside. They are all well after a short recovery period. The professor promises success in a toast that they will all return to the moon one day ...


see also: Destination moon

This second part of the lunar flight history was published in 1954, still 15 years before Apollo 11 and also before the start of Sputnik 1 . According to Hergé, it is therefore one of the “exotic” adventures. In the following volumes, the stories return more to the “Tintin universe” he created.

The moon rocket

Unit 4

Outwardly, the rocket looks very similar to Unit 4 (which became known as the "V2" weapon) developed during World War II , especially due to its red and white coloring. Such models were also common in the science fiction films of the first half of the 20th century. Near the earth, the rocket uses a combustion engine made from nitric acid and aniline , while in space it uses a nuclear engine . Research on the latter is still not very advanced or has been discontinued for reasons of cost or safety.


In the rocket, the protagonists can move upright most of the time, just like on earth. Constant acceleration or constant braking after the reversing maneuver provides the necessary gravity . When the rocket is stopped by one of the schultzes out of nonsense, you can see how the captain's whiskey forms into a ball and moves freely in space. Because of the capillary force , as we know today, this would, however, get stuck around the glass. This way of creating an artificial gravity was never used in reality because it would consume too much fuel and is also not possible for an indefinite period of time. The flight path of the Apollo capsules was calculated in such a way that after leaving the earth's gravity field they could travel the distance to the moon without being propelled.

Hergé depicts the reduced gravity on the moon very realistically. However, that a small asteroid like Adonis could exert a strong gravitational force on a person is completely exaggerated.

On the moon

The spacesuits are quite similar to the ones actually used later. The draftsman is also aware of the fact that there is no sound due to the lack of air. The drawings of the crater landscape of the moon are quite realistic.

While it has long been considered very unlikely that ice could exist on the moon , as it would sublime instantly due to the lack of air pressure, recent research shows that the lunar surface could indeed contain small amounts of water.

The earth viewed from the moon is completely free of clouds. At that time it was assumed that clouds were transparent from a great distance. The earth appears to an astronaut on the moon much larger than it was drawn by Hergé. In addition, it should be in the zenith of the specified landing point.


This volume, too , has undergone significant changes in some areas between its first publication in Tintin magazine and the book form that is common today.

As with Destination Moon , the work was heavily influenced by various science fiction films from the first half of the 20th century. The groundbreaking works of that time include Frau im Mond (1929) and Endstation Mond (1950). For example, ideas about the lack of oxygen, the victim and the stowaway come from the former .

Under pressure from his publisher and from Catholic circles, Hergé changed Wolff's farewell letter so that it can be understood less as a suicide than as a victim.


Like its predecessor, the work was used in both previous animated films. In contrast to most of the other film adaptations of the Tintin volumes, there are some significant changes compared to the book, especially in the 1962 version. The goal of the trip is to find Struppi, who flew to the moon on board an experimental rocket. The episode in which the captain gets drunk on whiskey has also been replaced. The death of Jorgen and Wolff was also canceled: the two of them return to earth tied up, but alive.

In the newer version, the ending was left with the original. The speakers included a. Walter von Hauff as Jorgen and Eberhard Prüter as Wolff.

A video game called Tintin sur la Lune was released by Infogrames in 1990 . It was available for Amiga , ZX Spectrum , Amstrad , Atari ST and MS-DOS .

The space entrepreneur Elon Musk based the design of his spaceship "Starship" on the moon rocket from Tintin.

Individual evidence

  1. The French word cirque means "circus" in common usage
  2. The Moist Skin of the Moon . NZZ. September 24, 2009. Retrieved September 26, 2009.
  3. Tintin et la Lune , double album special edition for the 40th anniversary of Apollo 11
  4. Mike Wall: The New BFR: How SpaceX's Giant Rocket-Spaceship Combo for Mars Has Changed. In: September 21, 2018, accessed April 5, 2019 .