The rocket in Angoulême

News ~ Monday 19th February 2001

The Tintin Rocket: A worldwide exclusive in Angoulême

On Monday, February 19, 2001, Jacques Bobe, President of Magelis and Nick Rodwell, Deputy Administrator at Moulinsart S.A. signed an agreement governing the contractual terms for the construction and operation of the Tintin Rocket in Angoulême. A worldwide exclusivity, the rocket, 50m high, standing next to its assembly tower, will be erected in Angoulême on a site called “Les Trois Chênes”, in the center of “Village Magelis”. “This is a real challenge which will thrill all Tintinophiles and Tintinologues of the world”, said Nick Rodwell about the project. The scenario, created by the JFTL consulting firm, exploits and faithfully reproduces the themes, iconography, décors, ambiance and characters created by Hergé in both Destination Moon (1953) and Explorers on the Moon (1954) albums which, 15 years before Apollo XI astronauts, allowed Tintin and his companions to set foot on the moon.Although the rocket is the focal point of the project, this is in the assembling tower that the preparation and the journey to the moon will take place.The tower, with its 10 levels (46m high) and 2060m2, provides the initiation path transporting the visitors from the real world to a world of imagination by way of a chronological progression. Through the recounting of the space adventure, the creation of Hergé’s albums as well as the reproduction of a rocket’s environment, this path will lead all the way to a flight to the moon, simulated in a dynamic theater. The platform supporting the rocket and its tower are linked to a base inspired by the buildings found in the albums.Beyond the economic development promoting the establishment of imaging companies as well as the creation of a breeding ground for high-level professionals, Magelis has the ambition to create a space for the public dedicated to educational and interactive discovery: “The rocket represents the foundation of a larger course devoted to themes from comics, animated cartoons, cinema and, in general, imaging technologies. It’s a major tourist attraction, capable of channeling tens of thousands of visitor in our Charente region” said Jacques Bobe.A symbol of art and technology as well as an encounter between comics and scientific imagination, the rocket should be ideally inaugurated in 2004.Alexandra Tholance Conseil o 06 80 25 52 39

Tintin Rocket: the scenario


The project conceived by the consulting firm JFTL is composed of three parts:


The launching pad, that is the base supporting the rocket and its assembly tower. The tower, linked to a dynamic movie theater contains the scenographic course and provides access to the rocket through foot bridges,


The Base and its 3 pavilions,

- The Reception area with restaurants and boutiques.

The launching pad: the Rocket and its Tower Both Destination Moon and Explorers on the Moon provide the unique theme to this area.The launching pad supports both the rocket and the tower over a 8250m2 area. As a reminder of the albums, it will be made of a sand color cement and its design will remain simple: the jeep, crates..

The Tintin Rocket, founding elementof The Espace Découverte

Subject to 3 studies performed in parallel, the construction project takes into account an area including the ESI (Ecole Supérieure de l’Image) and the CNBDI (Centre National de la Bande Dessiné et de l’Image) as well as constraints inherent to the potential flooding of the site. Stringent specifications were imposed in regard to the construction of the facilities (zoning, professional real estate, parking space …) as well as the communications between the area and the city center. Due to constraints imposed by the zoning administration as well as the risks of flooding, the original plan had to be modified. As a result, the Espace Découverte had to be relocated and a new “bipolar” concept was proposed, both sites being linked by boat.

On one side, at the heart of the project, we find the “Cité Magelis” with the CNBDI (Centre National de la Bande Dessinée et de l’Image), training centers, animation studios and the Magelis headquarters. This area will attract urbanites as well as imaging technologies enthusiasts. It will also benefit from the renovation of the Musée de la Bande Dessinée (Comics Museum) and the creation of the Bibliothèque de l’Image (Image Library) as well as the Centre d’Interpetation des nouvelles images (Center for the Interpretation of new imaging), both located on each side of the CNBDI. On the right bank of the Charente river, collections of cinematographic material will be exhibited within wine storehouses.

Two kilometers away, in the “Village Magelis” located on the river bank, one will find the Tintin Rocket center, the house of animation and several pavilions dedicated to virtual technologies involving the world of comics, animation and video gaming. Devoted to the public, these installations will give the priority to gaming activities. The Centre des Expositions et des Congrès (Exhibitions Center) will also be located in this area.

The Sources of “Destination Moon”

"By the sheer power of believing, human beings turn their dreams into reality”, Hergé.

Tintin is the hero of over twenty adventures among which “Explorers on the Moon”, the most famous, sold more than five million copies. Yet, all his life, the ‘father’ of Tintin will remain discreet and modest. The public knew very little about him. Georges Rémi was hiding behind Hergé who, in turn, was hiding behind Tintin.

“Destination Moon” (1953) gives a detailed account on the preparation of the expedition to the moon. Syldavia is the theater of operations chosen by Professor Calculus.

“Explorers on the Moon” (1954) recounts the first space voyage and exploration of our satellite by Tintin and his companions, fifteen years before Commander Neil Armstrong ! A remarkably documented work of anticipation and breathtaking visionary sharpness.

“Hergé started to publish the ‘moon cycle’ on March 30, 1950. This is by far the longest episode he ever produced: 117 pages were published until December 30, 1953. It was then released in two separate albums and Hergé chose a crucial moment as the cliffhanger at the end of the first episode: the moment following the launch of the rocket as we all wonder whether its occupants are still alive. And this is what it’s all about: the story of the first journey of human beings to the Moon (…)

The quantity and the depth of the scientific information which allowed Hergé to create his fiction make it, by far, the first plausible expedition to the moon. Thanks to his sources, he created a large array of references to support his story: most of the elements that Hergé utilized came from a book written by Alexandre Ananoff, “L’Astronautique”, which came off of the presses of Firmin-Didot printing plant on March 10, 1950, twenty days before the first strip of Hergé’s story was published in Tintin Magazine (…) The adaptation is remarkable: for the first time, one can see men walking on the moon wearing adequate space suits and use equipment built by using the most advanced scientific technologies. For the first time one can see the ‘earth-shining’ from the moon. For the first time, a story based on scientific conjectures, allowed to understand the universe as well as the principle of weightlessness, absence of atmosphere and the great void of space. These concepts were used in order to be understood by everyone so that the readers could realize the extent of the relativity of the human kind. The subject of this adventure was chosen by Hergé in light of the events of the time. After WWII, aeronautics and astronautics were sciences in full expansion. But at the time, neither a journey beyond the atmosphere nor the presence of human beings in a rocket were addressed as short term projects. As History would later contradict such statement, Hergé, on his side, would be almost twenty years ahead of his time.” (in “Dossier Tintin: sources, versions, thèmes, structures” from Frédéric Sournois c/o Jacques Antoine)

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