Thursday 30 May 2013

Let's all go to the ISS

During a much needed clear out, I came across this issue of the short-lived British magazine Speed&Power from very early in 1975. As I've mentioned elsewhere, S&P was essentially my gateway into SF since they reprinted many short stories by Arthur C Clarke and (later) Isaac Asimov. (Note, incidentally, the "Reynolds" pencilled into the upper right corner of the magazine, by the newsagent in Barry who kept my copy aside each week).

What caught my eye this time was a neat little article on the construction and operation of America's future space station. The article would have been written in 1974, seven years before the first flight of the space shuttle, and a decade ahead of Reagan's announcement of the first proposal for the actual station, then called Freedom, in the mid nineteen eighties, and a full quarter of a century ahead of the actual constuction of the station.

Although the illustrated space station is built on a triangular geometry, the essential details aren't far off the mark - modular components, huge solar arrays, and the space shuttle doing the heavy work of lifting modules into orbit and then positioning them with its robot arm. All this, of course, was to some extent already on the drawing boards, but it's interesting nonetheless to see a piece of pop science prediction which doesn't look laughably wide of the mark forty years on.

Even more remarkable, to my eyes, was the supposed acronym for this "Initial Space Station" - the ISS. Doubtless the term ISS was already circling within NASA circles at the time, but I've no recollection of hearing it until much later in the real history of the space station.

1 comment:

  1. Until 1993, when Russia joined the project, the space station was called Alpha. And before that it was called Freedom. So my guess is that the use of the term ISS back in 75 was just a coincidence.

    There's more than anyone could possibly want to know about Speed & Power here: