A Grand Tour

  1. A “deep-space” craft, which does not need to take off or re-enter through Earth’s atmosphere, needs no streamlining and can utilise a very light structure. Such a space-ship is shown here landing at a lunar base.
  2. Having refuelled at a lunar base, the space-ship is shown before leaving the Moon for a journey to one of the other planets of the solar system. The cabin for the crew is separated from the rocket engines by a cluster of huge propellant tanks.
  3. After landing in the twilight one of Mercury, the explorers set out in small tracked vehicles across the parched, cracked, lifeless surface of this innermost planet of our solar system.
  4. After entering an orbit high above Mars, the space-shop releases a number of small landing vehicles which will carry explorers down to the “red planet”. Also in orbit, is a meteorite, representing one of the hazards of space flight.
  5. After a pre-liminary reconnaissance by the small craft, the main space-ship has landed on the surface of Mars, near one of the mysterious “canals” that have puzzled astronomers for years. Soon the riddle will be solved.
  6. Although they cannot land on Jupiter, with its dense atmosphere of poisonous gases, the explorers are able to observe it from a distant perch on an orbiting meteorite. One of the planet’s moons casts a shadow on the clouds as it passes.
  7. Show piece of the whole solar system is Saturn, with its spectacular rings. Although this is another planet on which explorers from Earth may never land, it should be possible to observe Saturn from one if its moon, as depicted.
  8. Somewhere in space, explorers have discovered a dead world. Perhaps Uranus might look like this, or Pluto. Nobody knows at present,. But nobody doubts any longer than man will one day be able to learn the secrets of every corner of his own solar system.

Eagle Book of Rockets and Space

by John W.R. Taylor and Maurice Allward
Longacre Press, 1961

Image source: Numbers Station

X-20 Three-View

Boeing X-20 Dyna-Soar abandoned by the US Air Force in 1963 before flight trials could begin. Although ultimately intended for launching by Titan 3C, this one-man vehicle followed principles established by the Austrian engineer Dr Eugen Stänger a quarter of a century before. The project played an important part in developing aerodynamic and structural techniques for new-generation space-craft capable of maneuvering after re-entry from orbit. Length 35 ft (10.7m.) wingspan 20 ft (6.09m.); height (with wire-brush landing skis retracted) 8 ft (2.4m.).

From Frontiers of Space by Philip Bono & Kenneth Gatland (1969)

X-20 Dyno-Soar at Astronautix

Image credit: USAF

Image source: Numbers Station

Four Space-Shuttle Concepts

Here are examples of tentative designs for a space shuttle, made public by members of the four industrial teams competing in the project:

  1. McDonnell Douglas/Marietta
  2. Boeing/Lockheed
  3. North American/General Dynamics
  4. Grumman Aerospace

Each of pictured space-shuttle versions is a composite craft consisting of two stages, a booster and an orbiter, and is launched vertically like a space rocket, as shown. It’s two stages separate in space, and both return to earth for re-use.

Image credit: Robert McCall

Text and Images: Popular Science

The Next Steps

Inside the cockpit of a shuttlecraft, with the pilot and co-pilot preparing for docking with a space station.

The shuttlecraft docked with the station -in this case a top docking, but a nose docking is also possible. Two other shuttlecraft are seen, each of a slightly different configuration, since this scene looks forward to a time when shuttles, like aircraft today, will be specially designed according to their functions.

Our World in Space by Isaac Asimov & Robert McCall (1974)

Image credit: Robert McCall

Image source: Numbers Station

In Fiction & Non-Fiction

Boeing X-20 Dyno-Soar at Astronautix