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Entries in space travel (58)

Saturday
Jul162011

Americans Journey Into Space at the 1964 New York World's Fair

The Official Souvenir Book of the 1964 New York World's Fair includes some gorgeous illustrations of futuristic space exploration. The Fair had phenomenal exhibits showcasing the American push into space, but if you're wondering what the Soviets put on display for 1964 -- smack in the middle of the space race -- you'll be disappointed to hear that they didn't even have a pavilion.

Did the tensions of the Cold War keep the Soviets from coming to a fair whose motto was "Peace Through Understanding"? Not quite. The 1964 New York World's Fair wasn't even an officially sanctioned World's Fair. Robert Moses, the head organizer, decided to charge site rental fees for countries that wanted to have a pavilion and this put the Fair at odds with the Bureau of International Expositions (BIE). Many countries -- including Canada, Australia, the Soviet Union and most of Europe -- didn't have representation at the Fair when the BIE encouraged its members not to participate.

With Americans trotting out jetpacks, videophones and futuristic highways it's kind of interesting to wonder what the Soviets might have done at the Fair in the name of Cold War competition.

Below are pictures that appear in the Official Souvenir Book to the 1964 New York World's Fair.

Without pause, man has rushed headlong into the nuclear age, the space age and the age of automation. A variety of exhibits at the Fair help the fairgoer catch up with this runaway revolution in technology and science. High points of this revolution are shown on these and the next eight pages. America's first steps into orbit around the earth and plans for future ventures into space are set forth in a number of cinematic space trips as well as in a host of real and scale-model exhibits of space-age hardware. The Cape Kennedy story at the Florida pavilion offers a photographic account of launchings, and the U.S. Space Park provides a showplace for Mercury, Gemini, Apollo and a unit of Saturn V, the rocket destined to boost Apollo to the moon.

 

 

Essential to Apollo's journey of discovery, this vehicle will ferry astronauts between their capsule and the moon. It is in the U.S. Space Park.

 

 

A Saturn I booster, with 1.5 million pounds of thrust, lifts a 20,000-pound payload in a blast-off typical of the space age. A scale model of Saturn I is displayed in Florida's Cape Kennedy exhibit.

 

 

A spaceport and supply rocket, designed by the Martin Marietta Corporation, meet in mid-air in this scene from the Hall of Science space show. In such a port, astronauts may orbit for half a year.

Monday
Jul042011

Dear People of the Year 2076 (1976)

The 1970s was a tough decade for America. As we saw in the second episode of paleofuture.tv, many people were predicting apocalypse. But in 1976, it seems Americans were determined to hold their heads up high and celebrate 200 years of a country that was experiencing some major growing pains. If there's one thing Americans know how to do well, it's throw a party. And the U.S. Bicentennial was supposed to be one hell of a party.

On July 4, 1976 newspapers all across America dedicated special sections to the history and future of the country. The Grand Prairie Daily News in Grand Pairie, Texas invited readers to write letters to the people of 2076, who would presumably be celebrating the United States Tricentennial. Today we have some of those letters from high school students of the year 1976. What's pretty clear in reading the letters is that even most high school kids weren't very optimistic about what the next hundred years had in store for them.

[I've redacted the number that appears under Mike Sharp's letter because it looks like a Social Security number. I'm not sure why Mike would include his Social Security number, but I'd rather not create any unnecessary problems for ol' Mike, because most of these people are probably alive today.]

The drawing above was made by little Lisa Givlar in 1976 and appeared in The Tricentennial Report

 

Dear People of the Year 2076,

In the year 2076, the world will be far ahead in space travel and modern technalogy. There will be space flights to other planets.

Machines will take over, modern man will become a living blobb.

California will not be on the map and the weather will change through out the world.

Hungar will strike Asia and Europe. The civilization of 2076 will depend upon the polluted sea waters for food.

Nuclear enery will supply our needs.

Population control will be put into affect. The world will be over populous.

Schools wll be television programs. This may all seem funny to you but I remember a time when space travel was all just a dream.

 

Earthling,

Pat Bentley

 

 

To the people of the year 2076,

In a hundred years I think the world will be overpopulated and people will have to live in apartments to accomodate for this. Everything will be able to be recycled and what little that can't will be shot out into space.

 

From

Greg Redding

 

Many things will change some good some bad. But most of all I hope that the people of the year 2076 still love and protect the United States and what it stands for. This world is tough, but I am glad to be born in a place such as America were I can say what I please.

 

Sincerely,

A South Grand Prairie High Warrior

[unreadable] Allen 

 

I believe 100 years from now, ("1976") the year I graduate, crime will be wiped out completely. There will be some kind of magnetic force field to stop anyone from doing something illeagle.

Someday in the future I hope the world will not need army's, but I doubt that day will come. There will be new weapons being built all the time. I feel that the wars will be push button wars not on the battefield with hand-to-hand combat.

We probably have traveled to new planets and had started new colonies. Concerts and music is something important in my life, but I doubt it will be in the future.

I hope the world is at peace, and I wish all of you Americans the best of luck.

 

Mike Sharp

 

To: Whomever,

I'm suppose to write what I think the world will be like in 100 years. Well, honestly, I doubt if the world will even exist. The earth will probably destroy itself by then with a nuclear war.

The people of today just can't get along together, or even seem to be trying. But if by some miracle, and it would be a miracle, man still exists 100 years from now, I'm hoping the world will be a peaceful place. Maybe man will have learned to live in harmony with nature. Instead of polluting the air and sea. Maybe all the countries of the world will destroy their weapons and love their fellow man. This would be a great accomplisment and I'm wishing you all the luck in the world.

 

Maura McDonald

 

There is one thing specifically I would not like to see in the year 2076 and that is war and hostility of any kind. Peace is an all important thing the people of Earth must learn in order to progress and survive.

I truly wish humanity knows what to do with itself.

 

Spirit of 76 Bi Centennial

Yours truly

Bobby Jack 

Saturday
Jun112011

A Trip Through Space for Boys and Girls (1954)

While flipping through the 1954 book A Trip Through Space I was struck by one aspect of the interstellar story that I've never noticed in a pre-Apollo book... a girl in space!

Here at Paleofuture we've looked at quite a few books that told children of the 1950s and 60s about the wondrous world of space travel in store for them. But I can honestly say that I've never noticed one that included girls in this fantastic, space-faring future.

Exploring Space, First Men to the MoonBoytopia, The Complete Book of Space Travel; none of these depictions of future astronauts bothered to include women. A Trip Through Space was written by Catharine E. Barry, an associate curator at the Hayden Planetarium, but there isn't much information about her online. Any biographical information about Ms. Barry from readers is greatly appreciated.

Now, I know that pointing out gender inequalities of the 1950s isn't a particularly novel observation and I only own about half a dozen children's books from the 1950s and 60s that envision future space travel. So it's difficult for me to definitively say how common depictions of female astronauts were during this period without more extensive research. With that said, I suspect that the girl in A Trip Through Space is a rare depiction indeed. 

I'm fascinated by what kind of stories we tell our children and how that shapes our society. The stories we hear as kids no doubt greatly influence our perspective on what's possible for the future, both globally and personally. Sally Ride became the first American woman in space* in 1983 -- the year I was born, in fact. What stories did Sally Ride hear growing up that set her on a path pursuing science? Growing up, how did she see herself fitting into the space program? As a 27 year old man who didn't grow up during the Space Age it's sometimes hard for me to gain personal perspective on things like this. 

I emailed Virginia Postrel, author of The Future and Its Enemies, columnist at Bloomberg and editor of the website Deep Glamour so that I might better understand the gender politics of the time. When I moved to Los Angeles I had dinner with Virginia, her husband and Paul Boutin at Cafe 50s, where a copy of the 1959 kid's book You Will Go to the Moon hangs on the wall. Over dinner Virginia talked about how much she loved that book when she was a little girl. Virginia's email to me appears below. 

When I was in kindergarten (roughly 1965), we had a time every day where we could look at books. My favorite books were You Will Go to the Moon (1959) and a book on the planets. I did read You Will Go to the Moon nearly every day, and I never noticed that the character in the book is a boy or that the text says, "You will be a space man." I only noticed that decades later when the book turned up on the wall of Cafe 50s and I later acquired a used copy. As a child I never explicitly aspired to be an astronaut. It was more that I assumed that in the future people would go into space, perhaps on business trips or as tourists. I never got to the details. I don't know that more women being represented would have had much effect on me, because I've never had much of a problem identifying with male role models, but it might have made a difference for other girls. Later, in the early 1970s, when I was 12 or 13 I watched Star Trek, which, of course, had plenty of female characters. The recurring ones were a switchboard operator, a nurse, and a secretary, but there were nonrecurring scientists, diplomats, historians, etc.

 

And it goes without saying that your comments about this time period -- educated or otherwise -- are more than welcome.

*The first woman in space was Russian Valentina Tereshkova in 1963.

Thursday
Apr072011

Picnics on Mars in the Year 2012 (1962)

 

 

We've looked at a lot of the ways in which advertisers have positioned themselves as being in touch with "the future." The future's been used to advertise appliance stores, power companies, airlines, phone companies, aluminumTVs, beer and refrigerators, refrigerators, refrigerators; pretty much any consumer product or service you can think of.

By associating their brand with cutting edge design and glamour, advertisers are afforded the leniency of fantasy and fluff while still maintaining some level of respectability. The future is a perfect foil for conservative brands -- even something as boring as an insurance company -- to project fanciful ideas rooted in the long-term thinking expected of them.

The advertisement below is for the insurance company Michigan Mutual Liability and appeared in the September 12, 1962 Record-Eagle (Traverse City, MI). It predicts everything from picnics on Mars to oddly shaped money in 2012, significant for the insurance company as its centennial year.

HAVE A HAPPY TRIP! By 2012 AD, Mars may make a nice site for a family picnic, via your space craft, with a few stops for refreshments at space platforms along the way. Earth's Moon may be the site of our suburbs. Our Sun with an absolute surface temperature of 6000 degrees, is apt to be too warm for a pleasure trip. But Saturn, Jupiter, Uranus, Mercury and Venus may be more hospitable, and there are of course, trillions of other planets and suns beyond our Solar System to tempt the space traveler.

This month marks our 50th birthday. While it's fun to look back on our past half century, we think it's even more interesting to look ahead to our next one. And here's what we plan for the year 2012:

Whether "autos" are traveling on "space beams" to other planets, operating beneath oceans, on compressed air, or are radar controlled... we plan to be far ahead in anticipating our policyholders' insurance needs as we have been in the past. (For instance, we started providing auto insurance when horse drawn vehicles were still a relative commonplace. We pioneered in offering motorists discounts that grow larger each accident and claim free year. More recently, we introduced a pay-as-you-drive plan that lets motorists spread costs on a monthly basis.)

Entire communities may be enclosed beneath huge plastic domes providing community-wide air-conditioning in 2012. Or they may float in space... or be underground. Wherever they are, we plan to provide our homeowner policyholders with the greatest amount of financial protection practical, against personal liability, property damage, casualty losses... just as we do now. (We pioneered in combining four major homeowner insurance needs in a single package. And Now -- you can pay for your Homeowners Insurance, with us, on a monthly basis.)

The shape of money may change, but we'll pass on all savings, all economies, to our policyholders in the year 2012... just as we do today. (Michigan Mutual Liability Company, you see, is owned by its policyholders -- operated for their benefit, so they're entitled to the most complete insurance it's practical to provide... at the lowest cost consistent with sound management.)

We plan to continue our growth pattern, too... having already become one of the ten largest companies of our kind since we pioneered with Workmen's Compensation Insurance back in 1912.

Secure your future... Insure with Michigan Mutual

 

Thursday
Dec022010

First Men to the Moon (1960)

The 1960 book First Men to the Moon by Wernher von Braun tells the story of John Mason, a fictional astronaut of the future bound for the moon. The dedication page reads, "To Iris and Margrit [von Braun's daughters] who will live in a world in which flights to the moon will be commonplace."

In the book we read of the training and technical expertise necessary for a journey into space, accompanied by amazing illustrations and diagrams by Fred Freeman. As one of my favorite pre-Apollo books of space retro-futurism I can't recommend this book highly enough. With hard to find retrofuture books like these I sometimes wonder if there might be a market for them if a publisher were to reissue them.

Below I've included a couple of illustrations from the book which show what the fashionable spaceman of the future will be wearing. Look for more from this retro-futuristic classic coming soon (on this blog at least).

 

 

 

Previously on Paleo-Future:

Monday
Nov222010

This Age of Power and Wonder (1930s)

Companies of the early 20th century would often include collectible cards with their foodstuffs and tobacco smokes. The New York Public Library has an extensive collection of these cigarette cards available for viewing online, including many from a series by Max Cigarettes called This Age of Power and Wonder. This series from 1935-38 includes predictions of robot servants, spaceships, live television from exotic locations, and ubiquitous airports atop city high rises. Somewhat ironically for a cigarette manufacturer, card number six in this series of 250 predicted great advances in the treatment of cancer.

 

Wells Forecasts Space-Ships

 Television of the Future

Our Future Servants?

How London May Be Lighted

 The Amphibian At Work

 Atomic Fuel

Aerodrome of the Future

War on Cancer

 

Previously on Paleo-Future:

 

Friday
Jul232010

Space Station (1956)

Today's retro-futuristic eye candy comes from the 1956 book The Complete Book of Space Travel. This donut-shaped space station, popularized by Wernher von Braun, popped up on TV, in films and even on lunch boxes. Do the kids these days still carry lunch boxes? I really have no idea. I vaguely recall carrying an ALF lunch box to school, but I may be stealing that memory from a Full House episode or something.

 

Previously on Paleo-Future: