Steam-Powered Space-Ships, 1918.

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If these amazing craft could actually reach the impressive speed of two miles per minute (120mph), how long would it take to reach the sun? Over fifty years, or so says the margin notes in the original. I have never seen such a wonderful portmanteau of craft-shapes compiled into a single speculative spacecraft: the body is like that of a steamship, front-weighted like an airplane, with airelons and control surfaces both fore (like the Wright flyer) and aft (like most airplanes) — and not only did the artist theorize a single spacefaring airship, he or she put together several designs of varying shape, including a space-faring zeppelin in the distance. It also appears that the "wing-like" surfaces were not functional, as you'd expect for a spacecraft: if you look closely, there are observation decks and tiny people at the edges. My use of the word "Steam-powered" is purely an assumption based on the time period; the features that look like smokestacks are supports for the wings; I cannot see any outward evidence of the ship's power source. Based on calculations of time-periods, this was published around 1918 or 1919, so I assume the painting was done shortly before. (Want wallpaper of this image? here's normal and widescreen.) From Our Wonder World.

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Space Flight - Ten Cents

In 1960, you could drop a dime in the mail and get yourself some genuine space-flight experience! The Science Program was a subscription service, delivering a booklet devoted to a single subject each month. Ten cents was the introductory offer, but future booklets cost a dollar (plus shipping). Subscribers also got posters, star-charts, and other helpful activities to help teach about the varied topics, from nuclear power to cartography.

Take a close look at the date, though: this advertisement was printed on the back of the 27 March 1960 edition of This Week magazine...a full year before the USSR and USA launched their respective manned spaceflights. The potential for wild speculation and amateurish writing was ripe, but the Science Service was above such things. Established in the 1920s, the Science Service was a newswire for scientific thought, sponsored and edited by scientists for accuracy and clarity to the layperson. These booklets were carefully written for accuracy, as much information as they had in the 1960s, and certainly inspired the minds of today's scientists and engineers. That is, if their parents could come up with a buck a month to keep the sticker books coming.

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