Visionary Thinking

Visionary Thinking – The BIS was there First!

Over its 80 year history, the BIS has had many occasions where it has acted as the forum for new and innovative ideas and developments in Space. It continues to encourage and promote forward thinking ideas and concepts for the future exploration and utilisation of Space.

The list below contains some of the areas where the BIS was first, or served as the forum for these first ideas. It also includes some of the more advanced ideas which have yet to come about.

  • First serious engineering study of a rocket capable of taking humans to the Moon and returning (1938)
  • First development of an instrument specifically designed for spaceflight (1939)
  • First proposal for the use of geosynchronous orbit for worldwide communications (Arthur C Clarke 1945)
  • First identification of the use of unmanned communications satellites in geosynchronous orbit (E Burgess 1946)
  • First design of a spacesuit for working on the Moon (H E Ross, 1949)
  • Proposal to launch a man to an altitude of one million feet using an uprated V2 in a suborbital test of spaceflight (1947 – this was essentially what the Mercury-Redstone achieved over ten years later)
  • Investigations of the problems of vertical landing on the Moon (1947 – 1956)
  • Early investigation of the problems of re-entry of winged orbital vehicles from Space (1949-55)
  • Concept for a minimum orbital unmanned satellite vehicle (1951) – influencing the US Project Vanguard six years later
  • First proposals for the use of unmanned “probes” for the exploration of the Moon and planets (1952)
  • Earliest scientific paper on the possibility of nuclear rockets (1952)
  • Early investigations on the use of ion-motors and electric propulsion for interplanetary spaceflight (1952 – 56)
  • Use of lunar orbital rendezvous for missions to the Moon (1952)
  • First paper on the requirements for interstellar flight (1952)
  • Mathematical investigation of the perturbations of satellite orbits in the upper atmosphere (early 1950s)
  • Use of an inflatable metallized balloon as a trackable payload in orbit (1951) – achieved by the US Project Echo
  • Concept of using pressure-stabilized structures to allow lightweight rocket fuel tanks (1951) – used in the Atlas and Blue Streak missiles.
  • Concept and utility of a large orbiting space telescope (1955) – Hubble
  • International Symposium on Space Medicine and Biology (1958)
  • First colloquium on Space Law (1959)
  • Early recognition of the use of Space as an inspiring kernel for science education (1962)
  • Early investigations on the use of air-breathing propulsion for launch vehicles (1961)
  • First public announcement of the US Space Shuttle programme, made at a BIS meeting by Dr George Mueller (1968)
  • Use of long tethers for satellite orbit and control (1969)
  • Recommendation to HMG for the foundation of a UK Space Agency (1972)
  • First proposal on the manufacture and use of concrete for construction on the Moon (1976)
  • Investigations of the development of an interplanetary economy (1974 – 1990)
  • Papers on the exploitation of Space resources for escaping “limits to growth” (1975 onwards)
  • Establishment of a regular forum on “Soviet Studies” revealing details of the Soviet Space Programme (1973)
  • The prospects of “terraforming” Venus and Mars to make them habitable (1975, 1982)
  • First proposal for a Halley’s Comet intercept mission (1977) – which became the ESA Giotto mission
  • First detailed engineering design of a realistic interstellar mission (Project Daedalus – 1973 – 78)
  • Origination of the Hotol/Skylon project by Bob Parkinson and Alan Bond (1981)
  • First detailed investigation of a realistic World Ship by Alan Bond and Anthony Martin (1984)
  • First paper identifying the asteroid threat from NEOs.
  • First international conference dedicated solely to the concept of the warp drive (2007).
  • First academic paper on the concept for an interstellar institute by Kelvin F.Long (2011)
  • First academic paper on astronautical hygiene by John R.Cain (2011)
  • First design concept for the Enzmann Starship by Adam Crowl, Kelvin F.Long, Richard Obousy (2012)
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