Between 1952 and 1954 space pioneer Wernher von Braun developed one of the first comprehensive space programs. He published his detailed plans for the conquest of space in a series of articles for Collier’s magazine. Von Braun’s scheme was brilliantly illustrated by three of the best technical illustrators of the time: Fred Freeman, Rolf Klep and Chesley Bonestell. Their images of future spacecraft influenced decades of spaceship design.
Von Braun proposed an unmanned satellite, the first spacecraft launched, followed by a satellite carrying a pair of monkeys. After this, a giant, three-stage manned rocket would be built and launched. The third stage of this rocket would be a winged glider that would return to the earth and land like a conventional aircraft. Once the manned rocket had been proven, work would begin on construction of the orbiting space station. This would be a 250-foot diameter wheel that would rotate to create gravity artificially. One of the purposed of the space station would be to act as a base while the ships to the moon landing were being assembled in orbit nearby. These were unstreamlined spacecraft that were intended to operate solely in the vacuum of space.
A few years after the Collier’s series, von Braun updated and improved his designs for his book, The Explorations of Mars (1956). Taking advantage of advances in spacecraft technology, his giant manned ferry rocket was made smaller and less complex. The large swept-back-glider-like wings on the manned stage were replaced with the telta wings that had been recently proven efficient on supersonic aircraft. The same booster (stages 1-2) coulc also be used to launch the unmanned cargo modules that would carry materials into orbit for the construction of the space station (Glencoe Models No. 05909)
- Takeoff Weight: = 1,410 tons
- Base diameter: = 38.4 feet
- Length (from base to front end of third stage): = 180.8 feet
- Overall length (manned version): = 180.8 feet
- Overall length (unmanned version): = 164*191 feet depending upon cargo module)
- Length of manned glider: = 42.8 feet.
- Wing area: = 1,385 square feet
- Date – Build Info