Our 1948 Manned Space Station!

In 1948 Harry Ross and Ralph Smith designed a space station, on which subject Harry Ross read a paper, entitled “Orbital Bases” to the British Interplanetary Society on November 13th, 1948, and which was published in the Journal of the British Interplanetary Society, Vol.8, pp.1-19, in 1949.

Download the paper  here.

The design had three main features: a wheel-shaped habitat, a mirror, collecting solar power, and a large ‘hub’, with a stationary lattice boom, carrying the radio antennae and a two-deck airtight cylinder with an airlock chamber at each end, providing for a zero-gravity laboratory and an entry and exit point for the station.

It was suggested that a permanent astronaut staff of 24 people would be required.

The BIS space station seems quite primitive when compared to the technology of the International Space Station today. But for its time, it was a visionary concept and the designers put a lot of thought into the engineering and basic human requirements. The work of pioneers like Smith and Ross pointed the way to the vision, and modern space stations represent the fulfilment of their dreams.

 

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