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Liberty 1

ANSA - the American National Space Administration - launched a space vessel from Cape Kennedy on January 14 1972,[1] Its crew consisted of George TaylorJohn LandonThomas Dodge and Maryann Stewart. The craft was known as Liberty 1, and nicknamed the Icarus. Their mission was to journey to another star. After six months on the craft the crew placed themselves into a state of suspended animation using a special drug to keep them sedated, and confined themselves to stasis pods. It seems they planned to spend twelve months in suspended animation, a total of eighteen months on the ship. While they slept, the vessel was propelled two-thousand years into the future, confirming Dr. Hasslein's theory of time in a vehicle travelling near the speed of light. At some point in the journey, Lieutenant Stewart's stasis pod malfunctioned and an air leak caused her to die shortly after entering it.

Five Liberty ships were reverse engineered from technology of classified origin, and were propelled by an experimental photon propulsion drive designed by Dr. Hasslein, following on from the prototype used for the Juno mission to Jupiter. The crew were to "pollinate" the stars if something went wrong and they found themselves stranded. Three months after the crew entered hibernation, the Liberty 1 collided with a ship exactly identical with itself, automatically setting an emergency course for Earth and crash-landing there nine months later (by ship time). Back at ANSA, the X-Comm technology allowed Dr. Hasslein to monitor progress, but communications abruptly stopped en route to Centaurus.

ANSA's Liberty 1 crew

The ship splashed down into a stagnant salt lake about eleven months into the crew's stasis. Upon awakening, the remaining crew found the dessicated remains of Stewart's body in her pod. They were forced to evacuate the ship as it quickly began to sink to the bottom of the lake.

Upon landing, Landon's location transmission signal from the TX-9 somehow found its way back through the time distortion to the place they had left, prompting ANSA to consider sending the Liberty 2 along the same trajectory, either as a rescue mission or, more likely, as a suicide mission which would nevertheless prove time-travel theory. Shortly afterwards, ape scientist Dr. Milo spoke with Landon and was told about the lost space ship. He organised a team of fifteen chimps to undertake an unapproved expedition to locate the craft.


Liberty 1 on the truck

Some time later, Dr. Milo recovered the wreckage of the ship and restored it to working order using parts salvaged from the Libert 2, taking off moments before the Earth's destruction. Milo and his colleagues, Dr. Zira and Dr. Cornelius, witnessed "the rim of the Earth melting" and were thrown through a Hasslein Curve to 1973 - a point little over a year after Taylor left. The ship was recovered from the sea at El Palomar, California, and taken away for examination by NASA, where it was found to be Taylor's missing ship.


  • The ship was designed by Bill Creber, production designer on Planet of the Apes, and Holdereed Maxy, set designer on the film. A large full-scale model as well as a three-or-four foot miniature were built (the nose-cone of the miniature was brass, unlike the full-size version which had a heavily-weathered nose-cone).[2]
  • The inspiration for the ship was the McDonnell Douglas Winged Gemini or a re-entry vehicle called the Dyna-soar.
  • An original maquette model ship was 12" tall and built by Constantine Moros.
  • The well-constructed three-or-four foot long miniature of the ship was made of sheet metal and sunk in the studio tank (a large water tank kept on all studio lots for the express purpose of using it for special effects shots) for the first shots of the crash-landing. The ship's watery demise was filmed in slow motion because naturally, being smaller, the action would appear proportionally faster to the diminutive models than to a full-sized vehicle. It is the size of the water droplets that give the scale of the miniature away, because as it sinks huge jets of foamy water surround and engulf the hapless ship. The background was painted on the water tank cyclorama backdrop - you can see very sharply the water changes color; dark green in the studio tank and a lighter green in the painted backdrop.[3]

Ship interior

The full-size steel prop

  • The scenes of the interior of the spacecraft were from a studio set built on a gymbal mount so it could be rotated upwards as the sinking begins.
  • The full-size prop exterior of the spaceship was anchored into position with 455-gallon drums filled with cement and filmed in water over 300 feet deep at Lake Powell National Park near Page, Arizona. This was a steel hull anchored in the lake so just the upper part was above the surface. It had fairly heavy sheet steel frames spaced about 18 inches apart and was covered with two layers of thin sheet steel. Inside was only a platform for the actors so it would appear there really was an interior room. According to the blueprints they planned to have it sink and surface at the lake on command, so it needed a great deal of strength to survive the loads this would place on it. In the end this was never done but the mock up had already been built to those specs (see also Pictures from the Set).

Taylor's ship returns

Brent's ship Brent's ship
  • The original miniature ship was, as of 2001, reported to be resting in Bob Burns' Basement movie museum in Los Angeles.[8] It is also claimed that Bill Creber owns the original miniature version, and that a copy of it has been displayed at the Planet Hollywood restaurant in Orlando, Florida.[9][5]
  • Art Director William Creber recalled the original full-scale ship - the 'Planet'/'Beneath' model with the circular 'hatch' missing near the front, later adapted into the shorter 'Escape'/'TV' version - having been exhibited at the front gate of the 20th Century Fox studio for some years.[10] The ship was seen rusting in outside storage during the 1970s before being sold as a marketing prop, and is presumed to have long since been scrapped.[5][11][7]
Rustship1.jpg Rustship2.jpg
  • The ship was named Immigrant-One in an early Charles Eastman-written draft of the first film's script from late 1966.[12]
  • It's name was Air Force One in a set of Topps trading cards - perhaps inspired by the description in Michael Wilson's final shooting script of the ship's interior being "about the size of the President's cabin in Air Force One".[13]

The 'Liberty 1' presented by Templeton in the ANSA Public Service Announcement

  • The name Icarus was developed by Planet of the Apes researcher, Larry Evans, in honour of the tragic Greek hero, Icarus.[5] The name was given semi-official status when used on a toy model, and was later used in MR Comics' Revolution on the Planet of the Apes. In light of the other suggested names for the craft, it's probably worth noting that the doomed flight of Icarus would be a very odd inspiration for the name of a spaceship.
  • The 'ANSA Public Service Announcement' bonus feature from the Blu-Ray Planet of the Apes Box-Set (released November 2008) included a new name: "This is the Liberty 1 - a winged chariot that will propel man into the greatest adventure ever conceived. Built to withstand the pressures of near-light speed travel, the Liberty represents the technological crown jewel of the ANSA fleet."
  • The 2011 movie Rise of the Planet of the Apes contained TV footage of a ship called the Icarus taking off, and of its crew inside the ship. A headline in the San Francisco Chronicle later adds that the ship has been "Lost In Space". While the names of the crew aren't heard on-screen, and it therefore may not be the same spacecraft (especially since the movie is set in 2016 - over forty years after the Liberty 1 was supposed to leave Earth), the script clearly intended this to be the same ship, saying the Icarus crew was led by commander Colonel George Taylor, on his fifth space mission. Director Rupert Wyatt reinforced this, adding "In this film, we see television footage of the 'Icarus' taking off from Earth, so that's a clear reference to the 1968 film because that's the ship Charlton Heston and his crew were on."[14] "We had to ask ourselves, do we want to, for example, mention Icarus, because does that therefore mean we're referencing a film that actually we're saying doesn't exist? In the original POTA the Icarus mission happened in 1972, and we're saying it happened between 2010 and 2016. But yeah, we're definitely using that as a backdrop."[15] It is worth noting, however, that while the ship originally departed in 1971, it was recovered intact two years later, and could possibly have been reused for later flights. This version of the Icarus is speculated to appear in a later installment of the reboot franchise.

The launch of the Icarus The launch of the Icarus The loss of the Icarus
  • The 2011 novel Conspiracy of the Planet of the Apes attempted to reconcile the different names by giving the ship the official designation Liberty 1 - one of five vessels constructed for Project Liberty - but adding that it was given the darkly ironic nickname Icarus by the senior figures at ANSA, probably due to the fact that it was privately not expected to return. The inlay cover of the book contained the blueprints for the five Liberty spacecraft.
  • The 2018 novel Death of the Planet of the Apes added details of the repairs to the Liberty 1 by Milo, Seraph, Lykos and Pinchus. When they first restore power the display reads ‘Earth Time: June 16 1973’ and ‘Ship Time: November 25 3978’. Both clocks quickly jump to ‘January 25 3979’ before the display panel short-circuits. This suggests two months have passed since the crash of the Liberty 1. The display panel has to be replaced with that salvaged from the Liberty 2, explaining why the restored ship gives a date of 3955. It is also revealed that the ship had a glancing collision with itself in flight - one version captained by Taylor and the other by Milo going in the opposite direction.


  • The meters onboard Taylor's ship suggest a launch date of January 14th, 1972; Taylor records his final report six months later, to the hour - July 14th 1972 on the 'Ship Time' chronometer. According to the 'Earth Time' chronometer at that point, the date on Earth is March 23rd to 27th, 2673 - 701 years, 2 months and 13 days having elapsed. This equates to a rate of approximately 1415 days passing on Earth for every 1 day aboard the craft (or about 59 days per hour). After the ship crashes, the Earth Time reads November 25th, 3978. The Ship Time isn't shown, but the corresponding reading at that rate would be approximately June 16th 1973 - a further 11 months having been spent in cryogenic hibernation; Taylor subsequently confirms that Stewart has been dead 'nearly a year'. Landon then concludes they've been away from Earth for 18 months (rather than 17 months, although he didn't see the chronometers). If they had expected to awake after exactly 18 months on the craft - July 14th 1973 - then the Earth Time should have read approx. May 16th, 4087. However, the ship entering a Hasslein Curve would presumably have had serious effects on the equipment and it's ability to accurately gauge the passage of time. Taylor's final report, sent out before entering his sleep chamber, wouldn't reach Earth until about June of 3374. The 'signal to Earth' sent upon arrival couldn't be expected to arrive until at least October of 5985.[16]
  • The 'ANSA Public Service Announcement' featured in the 2008 Blu-Ray edition of the Planet of the Apes collection gave detailed predictions of the project: the craft was to launch on January 14th 1972; on reaching its intended destination the 'Astronaut Time' (Ship Time) would be June 14th 1973, while the comparative 'Earth Time' would be June 14th 3972. These calculations are based on a 17-month journey, rather than the 18-month journey mentioned by Landon.


External Links


  1. Taylor remarks on 14 July 1972 that it is exactly six months - Ship Time - since his ship launched from Cape Kennedy.
  2. The Flight of the Icarus (detailed design blue-prints of the ship), by Jim Key - 'Sci-Fi & Fantasy Models' #38 (1999)
  3. SFX on the Planet of the Apes, by James Glenn - 'Planet of the Apes' UK #95 (11 August 1976)
  4. Behind the Planet of the Apes (documentary)
  5. 5.0 5.1 5.2 5.3 'Icarus' Overview at The Last Flight of the Icarus
  6. A Chronology of the Planet of the Apes, by Nigel Brown - 'Comics Unlimited' (1975)
  7. 7.0 7.1 The Road to Ruin, by Dave B - 'Simian Scrolls' #21 (2020)
  8. 'Simian Scrolls #4' at Hunter's Planet of the Apes Archive
  9. Planet of the Apes: 40 Year Evolution, by Lee Pfeiffer & Dave Worrall (June 2008)
  10. William Creber Interview - Planet of the Apes TV Series DVD Box-Set (Japan, 2004)
  11. 'Icarus' FAQ at The Last Flight of the Icarus
  12. Charles Eastman Script at Hunter's Planet of the Apes Archive
  13. Final Shooting Script at Hunter's Planet of the Apes Archive
  14. Sci Fi Magazine (August 2011)
  15. The Great Escape, by Dan Jolin - Empire Magazine (August 2011)
  16. Planet of the Apes Yahoo Discussion Group