In the 1980 film version of Flash Gordon, Dr. Hans Zarkov has in his greenhouse a viable rocket that is capable of launching.

I know he (in this version at least) is a discredited NASA scientist, but even so where does he get the rocket from. Did he steal it from NASA or does he have the resources, materials and fuel to create the rocket?

Is this addressed in any media outside the film or is it just a case of suspend your belief?

the guy even has a suspiciously shaped greenhouse if he was trying to hide it

  • He didn't steal it, he built it. In the clip he says "Friendship. Built this to send in friendship."
    – Wad Cheber
    Oct 19 '15 at 16:41
  • @WadCheber he doesn't say "I" built this 👀
    – user46509
    Oct 19 '15 at 18:25
  • 1
    It's pretty strongly implied.
    – Wad Cheber
    Oct 19 '15 at 18:32
  • @WadCheber but still open to interpretation. He could be meaning I built it <sup>while working for NASA with a team of engineers</sup>
    – user46509
    Oct 19 '15 at 18:36
  • 1
    Doesn't every mad scientist have a rocket in their greenhouse?
    – BBlake
    Oct 20 '15 at 0:47

According to the film's official novelisation, he built it mainly from spare parts;

“No, but I have faith.” Inhaling deeply, Zarkov straightened his shoulders, keeping his bead on the couple. “If not, then I wouldn’t have worked so hard. The engine for this baby was cannibalized from those of old bombers, and it sings like a bird. The body was welded from the husks of obsolete rockets I purchased from NASA. The other parts I needed I got from saving Green Stamps. No, this capsule hasn’t been tested, but I’ve my resources, young man, I’ve my resources. In just a few minutes, we’ll be taking off.”

  • Great answer, the film version looks too polished to be an a-team job.
    – user46509
    Oct 19 '15 at 16:47
  • Oh random downvoter, whither goest thou and why?
    – Valorum
    Oct 19 '15 at 17:21
  • Some people just don't like canon-supported, logical answers I guess.
    – corsiKa
    Oct 19 '15 at 20:03
  • @corsiKa More likely that they don't like people with 141k rep. ;) But then maybe there's a correlation between the two.
    – jpmc26
    Oct 19 '15 at 22:28

It is never explicitly stated in the script, but it is rather strongly implied. Aside from Munson's obvious disdain for the spaceship, which would be harder to explain if Zarkov had stolen an intact rocket from NASA, we have the following. Note that the scene plays out the same way in the movie as it is written here, but the design of the rocket was apparently changed at some point between writing and filming.

[The rocket] is curiously transparent from the inside, mirrored only on the exterior. There are some controls and displays, but in general the interior is severely ascetic: as far removed from conventional spacecraft as ZARKOV's solitary genius is from everyday science.

Immediately starting to set switches in a frenzy of activity,
ZARKOV waves the gun at FLASH.

Sit down there! Foot on the red pedal!

Flash! Sack him!

ZARKOV wheels and pulls the door shut. FLASH jumps him. He punches ZARKOV in the gut. ZARKOV slams him back with the well-known strength of a madman. FLASH clobbers him again. Falling, ZARKOV dives sidewards and hits a switch.

The capsule WHINES SOFTLY and begins to WHIRL. Looking out through the transparent wall, it is as if the capsule itself was motionless and the scene outside is whirling. What's left of the greenhouse is under a constant rain of those LASER BOLTS, flashing fire that makes us dizzy.

FLASH staggers to his feet and finds DALE, folds his arms around her protectively. The centrifugal force is rapidly increasing now, throws them both against the wall. Faster and faster, whirling, the force presses DALE'S body back against FLASH'S until they are almost one flesh.

We move over and find ZARKOV plastered against another part of the whirling capsule, his face drained white and distorted by the terrific G-Force operating here now, his lips moving as he speaks with enormous effort:

Friendship...Built this to send to
them in...Friendship
...The end
now...End of the world....Unless we
···· (every sound an effort NOW)


ZARKOV'S eyes close. He loses consciousness.

He says he "built this to send to [the aliens] in friendship", although the "I" is implied rather than explicitly stated. The script makes it fairly clear that the rocket is a totally unprecedented design, nothing like the rockets used by NASA, and suggests that this is due to "Zarkov's solitary genius". The clear implication is that Zarkov somehow built the rocket himself - with at least some help from Munson - to his own specifications. We don't know where he got the resources and materials to do so.

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