1962 Illustration Book Shows Genius Designs by Era's Engineers

From satellites to astronauts returning from orbit, this book is a gem of vintage engineering.
Derya Ozdemir

John Sisson's Dreams of Space is a website directed to vintage non-fiction children's books and a deep-dive into space travel, with the dates ranging from the 1950s to the 1970s, and it is filled with stuff that will most definitely blow your mind.

Stating that the August is "Space Station month", he has started sharing grabs from books that speculated what space stations might look like in the future.


"Space Stations", written by Erik Bergaust in 1962, is one of the books in question. 

In the book's acknowledgments, Bergaust wrote "Our Space Agency, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration, now has some serious plans for space platforms of different designs. ... This book is a roundup of all current plans for space stations. It is based on official information provided by the Space Agency and by industry."

"The illustrations do not depict science fiction ideas; all artwork in the book was submitted by the companies currently working on our various space projects. It is based on designs by their own engineers and scientists."

Let's take a journey through the designs of the past to see how they fare up against today's space projects.

1. Communications Station

According to Bergaust, the picture communications satellite would be placed in orbit 22,000 miles above the Earth to transmit radio, television, and international telephone calls.

Source: Dreams of Space/Blogspot

2. Solar Mirrors

Another bright idea was to have huge solar mirrors to fuel unmanned space stations.

Source: Dreams of Space/Blogspot

3. Manned Space Laboratory

This was NASA's official manned space station design, designed for a crew of four or five people. It was stated that the first operational flight to Saturn was scheduled for 1964. 

Source: Dreams of Space/Blogspot

4. The Atlas Missile

This was the Atlas missile which was built by Convair for the Air Force. While NASA favored the Saturn booster, this one could be used by the crew to "put together the parts that eventually will become their future home in the cosmos."

Source: Dreams of Space/Blogspot

5. Two-man Space Station

Norair's illustration showed the station sent to orbit in three sections: the space station on the lower left, a life support system to supply two astronauts for weeks, and a maneuverable satellite capsule on the upper right.

Source: Dreams of Space/Blogspot

6. Launching Platforms for expeditions to other planets

This is a concept that we hear often here in 2020: using launching platforms to other planets. The illustration by the design engineer W. C. House shows a space ship headed for Mars after launching off from the station.

Source: Dreams of Space/Blogspot

7. Elongated Space Station

This space station with its unique shape is described to be capable of transfer between planets.

Source: Dreams of Space/Blogspot

8. Conventional-powered Space Station

Another design by Norair is stated to be a conventional-powered space station that uses solar cell outriggers.

Source: Dreams of Space/Blogspot

9. Space Laboratories

Aimed to used for astronomy, solar and ionosphere studies, this five-man space laboratory was designed by Rocketdyne.

Source: Dreams of Space/Blogspot

10. Satellite

This illustration shows the moment a satellite positions itself to couple to a space station.

Source: Dreams of Space/Blogspot

11. Sun-powered Space Station

Admittedly it doesn't look like ISS a lot; however, this sun-powered space station is designed as a launch platform and transfer point to the other planets.

Source: Dreams of Space/Blogspot

12. Returning from orbit

Does this look familiar to you? Here, a three-man crew returns from the orbit with the help of parachutes. 

Source: Dreams of Space/Blogspot

It is an interesting thing how most of these black and white designs have become our reality! Even more so, we are talking about the International Space Station opening to tourists in the near future...

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