Destination Moon (Objectif Lune) is the sixteenth of The Adventures of Tintin, a series of classic comic-strip albums, written and illustrated by Belgian writer and illustrator Hergé, featuring young reporter Tintin as a hero. Destination Moon is the first part of one of the four multi-book stories in the Tintin series, the other part being Explorers on the Moon (On a marché sur la Lune).
It is one of two latter-day Tintin albums (the other being The Castafiore Emerald) that is not structured as a straightforward adventure story ; instead, it is an episodic sequence of events surrounding the development of a moon rocket. There is, however, a subplot involving espionage to hold the episodes together.
While in the Centre, they soon come to realize the purpose of the ZEPO: They are to block a foreign power that is also interested in the project. On one particular night, spies are parachuted into areas surrounding the facility and the Centre is placed on high alert. The security staff later arrest and interrogate two men dressed in Greek dance costumes, but discover they are the detectives Thomson and Thompson, whom Tintin instantly recognizes and clears. The pair remain in the Centre.
An unmanned subscale prototype of the rocket — the "X-FLR6", resembling a V-2 rocket — is launched on a circumlunar mission to photograph the far side of the Moon, as well as test Professor Calculus's revolutionary nuclear rocket engine. The rocket successfully orbits the moon, but is then intercepted by the foreign power, giving the research team no other option than to destroy their rocket. As the compound is heavily secured, there must have been a spy who leaked information, but no suspects are found.
Despite this setback, preparations are made and the equipment is tested. While testing one of the space suits, Captain Haddock becomes frustrated and accuses Calculus of "acting the goat" (a line that would become famous in the Tintin series), causing Calculus to go into a fit of anger. He leads them out of the complex and to the site of the moon rocket, where he falls down a ladder and suffers temporary memory loss, from which Haddock caringly — and unwittingly — helps him recover.
The story continues in Explorers on the Moon.
The pace of development is represented as far swifter than reality: The first manned lunar landing is apparently attempted only four years after the Atomic Research Centre was created, and construction work on the full-scale manned rocket only begins after the unmanned subscale test flight, which takes place only a few months before the first manned lunar landing.
Another oddity is that Tintin and Haddock, although designated as passengers for the moon trip for months, do not actually see the rocket until it has neared completion. The crew that does go to the moon does not include a single native from Syldavia — when you consider that the actual space programs of the 1960s and 1970s were all-Russian and American affairs.
Some of the details are very accurate, however: The June 3 1:34 a.m. launch takes place while the Moon's phase (new moon) is the same as it was in 1952 when the comic strip depicting the launch was written.