The classic 1956 book The Complete Book of Space Travel contains some amazing imagery. The book was targeted at young boys and had that unique blend of sincerity, wonder and confidence we so often see in 1950s futurism. As early as 1956 the question was not if we'd explore the moon and other planets in our solar system, but when we would make this a reality. Chapter 22 is even titled, "If We Are Visited First."
Below is the introduction to the book as well as an illustration from the title page. Stay tuned as we look deeper into this paleo-futuristic classic in the coming weeks.
The first space pilot has already been born. He is probably between ten and sixteen years of age at this moment. Without doubt both he and his parents listen to radio and television programs dealing with much space adventure but with few accurate facts. This book is designed to outline the facts of space travel, and the conditions we expect to find in space and among the planets and stars. These facts alone are sufficiently exciting, since they are factors in man's greatest single adventure - the exploration of the universe.
This book has not been written for the space pilot alone. It is written for his engineer, his astrogator, the vast grounds crews who will design the ship, and the many people whose taxes and investments will make it vital to understand the problems and progress of space travel.
Space travel is already here. Flying saucers are probably indicative of space travel by a race other than ours. We are slowly solving the problems of man's own survival in space. It is only a matter of a few years, and many, many dollars, before our first space pilot will launch himself into the last frontier of exploration, adventure, and commerce.
We read much about space stations, the small man-made satellites which will be designed to circle the earth at an altitude of several thousand miles. Actually, these space stations will be very useful, even if space travel never develops any further, and we should know about them too.
Although much has been written about space travel, much of this material deals with the mechanics of ship construction to get us into space.
It is the purpose of this book, on the other hand, to show that space travel is also a biological problem, even perhaps to a greater extent than it is an engineering problem. Moreover it is the purpose of this book to describe, to the best of present knowledge, what we expect to encounter when we get to space. This is important, because the success of man's greatest adventure will depend upon being well prepared.
Today, space travel is one of the ultimate goals of scientific and military research. The familiar cry, "Who rules the moon controls the earth!" reflects our readiness to exploit space. Our military might is ready for space; our economic strength is ready for space; soon our ships will be ready for space.
Let's find out what space travel is all about.
Man and the Moon (1955)
Mars and Beyond (1957)
Challenge of Outer Space (circa 1950s)
Animal Life on Mars (1957)
Plant Life on Mars (1957)