Destination Moon (1950) is an American science fiction feature film produced by George Pal, who later produced When Worlds Collide, The War of the Worlds, and The Time Machine. Pal commissioned the script by James O’Hanlon and Rip Van Ronkel. The film was directed by Irving Pichel, was shot in Technicolor and was distributed in the USA by Eagle-Lion Classics.
It was the first major science-fiction film produced in the United States to deal realistically with the prospect of space travel. Science-fiction writer Robert A. Heinlein contributed significantly to the script and served as a technical adviser. Heinlein also published a novella, Destination Moon, based on the screenplay.
Four American astronauts blast off from the New Mexico desert and fly to the Moon. They land after difficulties that cause more fuel to be used than anticipated. Consequently, the crew must race against time to lighten the ship for a successful return to Earth.
The film features the premise that US private industry will finance and manufacture the first spacecraft to reach the moon, given the Soviet threat at the time, and then the US government will bring itself to buy or lease the technology. Visionary industrialists are shown cooperating to support the venture.