Imagining Human Space Exploration During the Early Space Age

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There once was a time when it was just assumed that by the early 21st century humans would be well on the way in space exploration. Of course, a trip to the moon was always considered the first stop – or ‘start’.

On 20 July 1969, Americans were glued to their television sets as they watched images of Apollo 11 touch down on the Moon’s Sea of Tranquility – the words, The Eagle has landed, went into the history books. Four more manned space flights to the Earth’s only natural satellite would occur between 1969 and 1972 but none were as exciting or interesting to the public as the first.

When people of the Earth saw the barren landscape – and no little green men to welcome the Earthlings – they lost interest in the thought of man on the moon. In the decades that followed there was more interest in conspiracy literature regarding the moon landing as a fraud – with many people believing that it never happened at all. The bulk of this argument focuses on the first expedition to the Moon, and rarely if ever, do the following four missions appear in that regard. The bottom line of the entire Moon missions experience is that nothing much came out of it, except a huge cottage industry of books, films, videos, and conventions all designed around a kind of myth-making.

Needless to say, it’s now the 21st century and humans are no closer to galactic space exploration than they were in 1969. Yes, there are companies working really hard at making this a reality – some day. Still, with this in the works, very few possess the wonder of space exploration that the world did before and during the original Space Age. Perhaps it’s because the entire science fiction genre has turned out so many dark, violent, and foreboding works that there is less wonder and more fear of what is ‘out there’. Or, perhaps the world has become so consumed with the terrors of this world that when it comes to other worlds, ‘we ain’t got time for that.’

Be that as it may, let’s focus just a bit on the wonder and the magic that once was.

Werner Büdeler was one of the earliest writer/journalists in the space-pop tradition. His works helped spread an interest in, and an understanding of, modern scientific principles in everything from the atom, to astronomy, to aerospace – the last two were his specialty.

From among his earliest works one book stands out for its classic imaginative qualities – Flug zum Mond (Flight to the Moon), 1960. Originally published in 1954 with the title, Junge, das ist Tempo (Boy, that’s Speed), it’s a gem for the illustrations alone.

Flug Zum Mond - Cover

Artist Erik Theodor Lössig took the basic conceptual ideas of engineers like Wernher von Braun, H. E. Ross, and R. A. Smith, and created some wonderful works in black and white. They capture the visionary ideas of the early Space Age perfectly.

The idea of getting to the moon involved first building an outer space station which would then be used to build the modules that would launch to the moon – the idea being that launching from space itself decreased the amount of energy which would otherwise be used just to get out of the Earth’s atmosphere and gravitational pull. This allowed for the conservation of fuel that would be needed for the trek to the moon – and someday beyond.

As you can see from these concepts, the journey to the Moon wasn’t thought to be a step-on-step-off experiment – these imagineers saw the Moon as a new frontier for settlement as a base, and potentially a launching site for further space exploration.

A Staging Concept

A two-stage large-scale rocket designed to transport materials.

A Multi-stage Rocket

A Multi-stage Rocket designed to transport technicians and construction workers.

Another Staging Concept

Separation of the personnel transport top stage.

The Space Pilot

The Space Pilot

Weightless in Zero Gravity

The Central Station – weightless in zero gravity

The Space Station Construction Site

The Space Station Construction Site

The Space Taxi

Mounting the Mirror – The mirror would utilize solar energy and act as a reflective shield, the ‘Space Taxi’ would transport materials and technicians.

The outer station revolves around the Earth.

The outer station revolves around the Earth.

Assembly of the Lunar ships

Assembly of the Lunar ships.

Moon Landing

Moon Landing

The First Step

The First Step

The Moon Base

The Moon Base

As we now know, this wasn’t the way things were done with the Apollo program – the US was in too much of a rush to beat the USSR in the ‘space race’ to take the time for such an intelligent endeavor. Perhaps, someday, these still viable ideas will be considered when human space exploration once again captures the world’s imagination.

A special thanks to Retro-Futurismus for the beautiful scans – they are much better than the images that my well-used copy could have produced.

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Further proof that cats and space go together like Kirk and Spock / io9

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Via: io9

In case you had any lingering doubts that cats in space are the best: behold this series of children’s books, written by one Ruthven Todd between 1952 and 58, chronicling the adventures of “Space Cat.”

Ruthven Todd (Pronounced ‘riven’) (1914–1978) was a Scottish poet, artist and novelist, best known as an editor of the works of William Blake, and as a writer of children’s books, including Space Cat.”

Emphasis ours. Because holy crap, talk about a range of interests. Then again, Blake had a thing for cats, himself. Coincidence? Please.

Space Cat and the KittenSpace CatSpace Cat Visits VenusSpace Cat On His WaySpace Cat Meets Mars

“Manners” — Starring Mr. Do & Mr. Don’t (Pointers For Little Persons, [and big] 1943)

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There are a lot of ‘little’ persons with very big mouths these days. It seems that civility, decorum, and manners are alien concepts in today’s world. This book is a children’s primer published in 1943. It should be recalled that that was right in the middle of a world war.

Perhaps this should be put back in print and sent to every household around the world.















“Manners” — Starring Mr. Do & Mr. Don’t : Pointers For Little Persons

Written by Virginia Parkinson
Claytoons by Lowell Grant, Maxwell Dorne Studio
Illustrations by Isabel Phillips
Color Photos by Philip Fahs
Harvey House, Inc — Irving-on-Hudson, NY 1943
Lithographed Print edition, 1961

via The Childrens Bizzare

Behold The Machine…! Hugo Gernsback’s Radio Police Automaton

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Hugo Gernsback’s Radio Police AutomatonScience and Invention magazine, May 1924

Radio Police Automaton

AS is well known, radio can be used today to produce mechanical effects at a distance. This new art is known as radio-telemechanics. Many years ago already it was possible to start and operate vehicles and machinery entirely by radio. The United States Navy a little over a year ago operated the warship “Iowa” entirely by radio. The firing of the boilers, the steering of the ship and all the controls were entirely effected by radio.

The Automaton is kept erect by the stabilizing gyroscopes. The machine does not really walk like a human being, but rather glides along the road over all obstacles by the small caterpiller tractors attached to the feet. This makes it unnecessary for the Automaton to take steps, and the machine will therefore progress by a gliding motion which is quite rapid.

Stabilizing Gyroscopes and Caterpillar Treads

Stabilizing Gyroscopes and Caterpillar Treads

Such a machine would seem to be exceedingly valuable to disperse mobs, or for war purposes and even for industrial purposes. In the upper illustration is shown the police car which controls all the movements of a regiment of such automata.

Radio Control Car and The Thin Automaton Line

Radio Control Car and The Thin Automaton Line

For fighting mobs use is made of tear gas which is stored in a tank under pressure and which alone will quickly disperse a mob if necessary.

Tear Gas Tank and Oulets

Tear Gas Tank and Outlets

The arms are provided with rotating discs which carry lead balls on flexible leads. These act as police clubs in action.

Rotating discs which carry lead balls. on flexible leads.

Rotating discs which carry lead balls on flexible leads.

For night attack the Automaton is provided with eye-lights and the loud speaker is used to shout orders to the mob which orders can be given direct from the radio control car. Inasmuch as this car is always in the rear of the Automata it can watch their movements and direct them as necessitated by circumstances.

Eye Lights, Loud Speaker, and 'Telegraphone'

Eye Lights, Loud Speaker, and ‘Telegraphone’

As a close hand-to-hand lighting machine the Radio- Automata have no equal. Bullets do not affect them and if equipped with a twenty to forty H.P. engine, they will be well nigh irresistible. They probably have no superior for fighting mobs or for war purposes.

The Radio Police Automation - Run for your lives!

The Radio Police Automation – Run for your lives!

‘Future Fantasy’ In 1930 Germany

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German Engineering.

Those words have traditionally conjured up thoughts of quality and creativity. During the period of the Third Reich, physicists, scientists, and engineers were encouraged to stretch their imaginations and develop things that had previously been only dreamed of in science fiction.

While most people are familiar with the works carried out at the The Peenemünde Army Research Center – the birthplace of modern rocketry and spaceflight – very few people are aware of other areas of technological research that had been in progress during that time. A very hushed bit of technological history is the part where the United States and the Soviet Union obtained a wealth of information and designs while pillaging after the fall of the Third Reich. Much of that technological information was incomplete as the scientists and engineers attempted to either hide or destroy it in order to keep it from the victors’ hands.

Because the U.S. required German know-how in order to further develop these technologies the government instituted the now well known Operation Paperclip in which more than 1,500 German scientists, engineers, and technicians were brought to the United States from Nazi Germany and other countries for employment in the aftermath of World War II. The celebrated rocket scientist, Wernher von Braun, was one alumni from this class. A number of researchers contend that the big UFO phenomenon in the late 1940s and particularly in the 1950s was the result of projects originating at a remote detachment of Edwards Air Force Base within the Nevada Test and Training Range officially referred to as Restricted Area 4808 North (R-4808N) – popularly known as ‘Area 51’ aka ‘Groom Lake’. It was here that U.S. and Operation Paperclip members worked on the research and development of the German technologies discovered post conflict – including ‘flying disc’ engineering designs. A few of the recognized aircraft developed at Groom Lake are the A-12 OXCART, SR-71 Blackbird, and the F-117A Nighthawk – aircraft so advanced that CIA documents acknowledge that they account for dozens of UFO sightings over the years.

One last point relevant to the following pictorial presentation is that while the incredible research and inventions of the great scientist Nikola Tesla were marginalized and ignored in the U.S. due to moneyed interests, the Germans were very much interested in his advanced and forward thinking works. Tesla was passionate about wireless communications and ‘free energy’ – while theoretical physicists obsessed over Newtonian science, Tesla took an electric field and plasma (aether) energy approach. German tech developers seemed to take this approach to heart. One of the most storied and controversial projects of the Third Reich – one that Adolf Hitler counted on until the end – was ‘the secret weapon’ known as ‘Die Glocke’ (‘The Bell’). Some skeptics say that this bizarre anti-gravity device never existed, but there is increasing evidence that it had indeed been at an advanced stage of development previous to the fall of the Third Reich. From the schematics it appears to be very much a Tesla inspired technology.

Now to the fun part of this post. In 1930, a company known as True Wagner Margarine produced the third of a series of books designed as a display for a collection of stickers made available separately. In this book is a section called Future Fantasy. No artist or author is credited. The illustrations are beautiful, the technology is actually quite brilliant and not so far fetched. The book is called, Echte Wagner Margarine Album Nr. 3″, Serien 12 und 13 (Genuine Wagner Margarine Album Nr. 3″, series 12 and 13). It was published by Elmshorn in Holstein, Germany. With what is now known about the developments in German technology during this period, one could imagine that a lot of the designs and ideas presented might have been considered a bit more seriously than ‘fantasy’.

Echte Wagner Album Nr. 3 - Cover Image

Echte Wagner Margarine Album Nr. 3 – Cover Image

The Artificial Island

The Artificial Island – Since there is no island located on the shortest route to America which could serve the aircraft as a port of refuge, a good idea is to anchor an artificial landing place on the ocean. Of course, located on the island are hotels, spas, restaurants and a movie theater, so that the passengers have their convenience if a storm detains for several days on the island.

The Rocket Plane

The Rocket Plane – The aircraft of the future powered by rockets. The rockets are fitted at the stern of the vessel, which propel the aircraft forward through the recoil of the escaping gases. The aircraft shown here is just going to skim past the Nankoupaß and the ancient Great Wall Of China with 10000 kilograms of mail on the way from Berlin to Tokyo. Since it has an hourly rate of 1,000 km, it takes nearly 8 hours for the Berlin-Tokyo route. A steamer today needs about 50 days!

The Rocket Airships

The Rocket Airships – The rocket planes have assumed huge proportions and consist only of a pair of wings in the shape of a parabola. The lavishly decorated cabins are built into the wings and take 400 passengers. Because there is no hull, the control fins are located at the ends of the wings. The driver’s cab, from which the missiles are made to fire, is located in the middle of the air cruiser deck.

Private Aircraft With Nuclear Propulsion

Private Aircraft With Nuclear Propulsion – Here we have the opportunity to meet a plane nearby. Yes, where is the propeller? That was once! The aircraft rises vertically and settles down vertically. The motor is a small capsule, in which the atom fragmentation takes place. On the right is an aircraft and an aircraft parking garage.

A New Driving Force

A New Driving Force – To move loads forwards, one exploits the tremendous power that is released during the disintegration of atoms. All cars drive with only a tiny motor which is driven by nuclear power. The speed of cars has grown accordingly. In the divided road, take 200 to 300 kilometers through the city, on the major highways the speed of 1000 km speed per hour is not uncommon!

Wireless Home Phone and Television

Wireless Home Phone and Television – Each person now has their own transmitter and receiver and can converse on a certain wave with acquaintances and relatives. But the television technology has become so perfected that one can look the friends in the face at the same time. Transmitter and receiver are no longer bound to the location, but is carried in a box the size of a photo apparatus.

Landing Of A Spaceship On The Moon

Landing Of A Spaceship On The Moon – Is this not wrong? Shouldn’t the rockets ignite at the stern of the vessel and spew their fire back? No, it’s for accuracy! The ship is landing, and therefore it has brought the Retropackage to deploy and quickly reduce the frenzied speed. Now you can easily make the landing on the Moon.

Spaceship Post

Spaceship Post – Because there are rare minerals on the Moon, capital was formed in America with $20 billion by the MoMA-A.G. (Moon minerals yield A.G.), which maintains a busy space ship traffic. At the stopover, the ships renew their rocket fuel on the ports floating freely in space.

The images above are via Retro-Futurismus – to see more click here.

Frank Tinsley: Concept Artist With An Eye On The Future

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Frank Tinsley (1899-1965) was a concept artist during a time when the imagination was the only limit. During the late 1940s and through much of the 1950s, Tinsley found a home at Mechanix Illustrated magazine. He wrote and illustrated numerous articles that mused about the future of technology, transportation, strategic military weapons and equipment, and space exploration. Tinsley was a man with a lot of ideas.

When America Bosch Arma Corporation decided to run an advertising campaign to promote their inertial and military guidance systems and space technology, they turned to Frank Tinsley to illustrate their concepts. Below are some his works for the Steps In The Race To Outer Space campaign, with descriptions from the adverts.

Lunar Unicycle - Illustration: Frank Tinsley, 1958

This 30-foot high Unicycle is designed for preliminary exploration of the moon, once a base camp has been established. It’s entirely constructed of inflated, rubberized fabric, with the exception of strengthening members, hatches and a few other items of equipment. Gyros stabilize and steer the vehicle: electric motors furnish the driving power. – Illustration: Frank Tinsley, 1958.

Assembling A Station In Space - Frank Tinsley, November 1958

This imaginative but technically accurate illustration shows a permanent satellite (center) being constructed in orbit around the Earth. It generates its own heat and electricity from solar rays. Basic vegetation (such as algae) for oxygen as well as protein-rich foods are grown in hydroponic tubes in upper level ‘greenhouses.’ – Illustration: Frank Tinsley, November 1958.

Mars Snooper - Frank Tinsley, January 1959

This nuclear-fueled reconnaissance craft is preparing to land on Mars’ outermost satellite, Deimos – 12,000 miles away from the ‘red planet’ (center) and 35 million miles away from Earth. – Illustration: Frank Tinsley, January 1959.

Cosmic Butterfly - Frank Tinsley, March 1959

Spreading its wings to absorb the eternal flow of solar energy is the Cosmic Butterfly, a space vehicle of a type first conceived by Dr. Ernst Stuhlinger of Redstone Arsenal. – Illustration Frank Tinsley, March 1959.

Escape In Space - Illustration: Frank Tinsley, March 1960

The space-assembled super satellites of the future will periodically encounter disaster – collision, mechanical failure, military attack, or the long chance of being hit by a meteorite. When this happens, ‘lifeboats’ like the one shown here will bring the crews safely back to Earth. – Illustration: Frank Tinsley, March 1960.

Breaking A Space Traffic Jam, Frank Tinsley, May 1960

By 1970 our solar system will be filled with expended satellites – whirling aimlessly in space with dead batteries and electronic equipment, their missions long since completed.
As space traffic increases, these derelicts will have to be captured and put out of orbit to keep flight paths clear. For this task, special towboats will be designed and crews trained. – Illustration: Frank Tinsley, May 1960.

(adverts via nevsepic.com.ua)