Nowadays, Kickstarter has evolved into a platform for launching big ideas and even bigger businesses. But for Paul Sahre, the crowdfunding platform is about launching a model Saturn V rocket his late father lovingly built 40 years ago. After months of preparation, the rocket never deployed its chute and instead crashed to the ground. It was never flown again.
"It struck me that this was the first time I remember seeing him fail at ANYTHING," Sahre writes on his Kickstarter page. "It reminded me of a time when our fathers were omnipotent; when any dispute with the kid down the block could be settled with ‘I’ll ask my dad.’"
Now, Sahre plans to try again. He’s going to build and launch a Saturn V of his own alongside his children and family. He’s already bought a vintage kit off eBay, and through Kickstarter funding, he’ll be documenting the experience in a photobook and short documentary video. The goal? To recreate a place and time in both his life and our society.
"It’s easy to forget but there were seven missions to the moon over a four-year period between 1969-1972. It was a collective experience unlike anything happening today. All my friends wanted to be astronauts and many of them were into model rockets," Sahre tells me. "My dad was an aerospace engineer (but his specialty was flight simulators). He built his 1/100 scale Saturn V and made it an event so we could relate in some small way to what we were watching on the TV every night."
His father spent months building the rocket (or "years" according to his mom), photographing the progress all the while. But when the rocket failed to deploy its chutes, the photos stopped and the story ended. Sahre wants to continue with his photobook where his father left off.
The sheer amount of details make it a specific memory to be sure. Not everyone’s father was an aerospace engineer. Not everyone’s father built toy rockets. But there’s something about Sahre’s story—maybe it’s the golden age of the Space Race, maybe it’s every man’s quest to understand his father, maybe it’s just the extreme sincerity behind the whole project—that’s resonated with the crowd. Sahre’s family project has already exceeded its $14,000 goal, and there are still a few days left to back it.
"The project is really about shared experiences and the nature of memory. And about loss of course. Why do certain things stay with us? And how do these experiences form the future you? Why do I remember this particular event with such clarity 40 years after the fact? And what effect might a do-over have on that memory?
"While I don’t necessarily expect answers, I like the idea of re-enacting this event, engineered by my father, for my two sons who never knew their grandfather. And seeing if i can make this experience stick for them.
"Or maybe I just simply miss my dad and this is a way to collaborate with him," says Sahre. "Either way, I think he would have liked the idea of giving it another try."