The Half-Astrophysicist Blog

The Six Million Dollar Man Intro

The Six Million Dollar Man is one of those cheesy ’70s shows that I never missed as a kid (and I am surprised that I was able to understand as much as I did seeing as when it came on when I was only six!)  I had all the toys including Steve Austin with the bionic eye, arm and all the little bionic modules you could see when you too off his clothes AND the rocket.

Recently the 365 Days of Astronomy podcast featured on show on the Enterprise, the space shuttle that never flew in space and was used for testing.  Surprisingly, the host (Steve Nerlich of Cheap Astronomy) talked about the Six Million Dollar Man intro.  Specifically, that they used real footage in the intro.  The intro featured a Northrop HL-10 being dropped from a B-52.  The HL-10 was an experimental lifting body that flew both unpowered flights and powered flights.  It would be taken up to abotu 45,o00 feet on a B-52 and then released.  The HL-10 is reference in the Six Million Dollar Man as being the craft Steve Austin was piloting when he crashed.

The crash used in the opening sequence of the show is also real.  This crash is of a Northrop M2-F2 in 1967, another lifting body craft.  The crash occurred on its last flight, an unpowered glide.

I love it when science fiction shows use real footage like this and I kind of geek out just a little bit when I find out a beloved show from my childhood did that.

Here is the Six Million Dollar Man intro so you can see the two clips for yourself.



November 28, 2010 - Posted by | Televsion/Movies


  1. Even as a kid, always thought the HL-10 was an intriguing looking plane…

    The artificial arm in the film was so real on the outside, and so mechanical on the inside.
    Just the right balance.

    Comment by Daniel Asuncion | January 9, 2011 | Reply

  2. I’ve read that the HL-10 was one of the designs that led to the Shuttle craft.

    But, of course, the HL-10 was never used as a re-entry vehicle…never had to be subjected to the heat of coming back into the Earth’s atmosphere.

    Always thought that the tear drop design of the Apollo command module was less complicated, and therefore safer for the astronauts. Turning the Shuttle so that its heat shield faced the fiery heat seemed a bit awkward to my layperson’s eyes.

    And the tiles, the heat resistant tiles. I don’t think we realize what an overwhelming responsibility it is for the technicians who try to make the shield perfect for the next time. I think that such technology has uses here on Earth, but…everytime astronauts re-enter the atmosphere, they should do so with a brand new one piece shield, in a command module type craft.

    Comment by Daniel Asuncion | January 16, 2011 | Reply

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