Michael Lloyd Ross’s vision was to have the Vulture
assembled from material that could feasibly be obtained
from America’s junkyards. And that’s exactly
how Ross’s fictional Harry Broderick and company put
The main fuselage/fuel
tank/cargo bay was a former Texaco gasoline tanker truck.
The command capsule was fashioned from a cement mixer, while
the main, thruster, and retro rockets were purchased as
surplus or used salvage from NASA and other aerospace operations.
Old tires were used to cushion the Vulture’s impact
Originally a two-seater for the moon mission of the pilot
episode, the interior of the capsule was later redesigned
for the series, allowing all three leads to travel together
on their various adventures. The interior capsule control
panels were made up from knobs, shifters, and dials from
every imaginable source, and even featured a stereo cassette
deck that was capable of broadcasting messages on the International
Distress Frequency as well as setting a romantic mood on
the way to the moon.
According to the script, the Vulture stands 30 feet high,
and measured 10 feet in diameter, roughly one-tenth the
size of the rockets used on the Apollo missions. It’s
comparatively small size is attributable to the fact that
instead of traditional rocket fuel, the Vulture used an
extremely powerful but highly volatile fuel derived from
the fictional explosive “mono-hydrazine,” a
single drop of which could send a 500 lb engine block 20
feet into the air. In order to prevent the Vulture from
overheating, a sophisticated cooling system was required.
A diaphragm within the fuel tank was designed to rise as
fuel is spent, creating cargo space in the Vulture’s
after the Vulture’s return to earth, the government
ruled that mono-hydrazine was too unstable to be used as
fuel, leading Harry and his team to convert the ship to
run on traditional rocket fuel, effectively ensuring the
ship would never leave Earth orbit again.
Harry initially had difficulty finding an existing Federal
Aviation Administration category that would allow him to
legally license the Vulture. Ironically, it is Jack Klinger
of the FBI that helps Harry and his team classify the Vulture
as a “hovercraft.” Thus, “Vulture”
was dropped as the name of Harry’s homemade spaceship.
Throughout the short run of the series, the craft was referred
to as either “Salvage” or “Salvage 1.”
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