Some Early Space Station Concepts and Designs: Ideas That Were Envisioned Before Their Time

The conquest of outer space was on the mind of men decades ago, with some surprising similarities to today’s space platforms these visionaries seemed to predict the future. A future that they could not an have possibly understood or fathomed. Ultimately, we will need a new fleet of space shuttles to get there.

1960s Proposed USAF Orbiting Space Station and Space Shuttles

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This is a concept depiction of a orbiting space station that the USAF (United States Air Force) was considering in the 1960s. The intent was that a two-person crew would spend a month aboard the station before being rotated out and brought back to Earth. The orbiting station was to be called “MOL”, the Manned Orbiting Laboratory.

MOL concept Design

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This would be the body of a rocket and a Gemini-style craft would be the ‘shuttle’ that would return the astronauts to Earth at the end of each mission.

The project time-line was pushed back and ultimately the USAF had spent a third of a billion dollars by 1969 with the then-projected cost estimated to be nearer to one billion dollars, so the project was terminated.

Some of the Air Force personnel that were selected for manning the proposed station would later transfer to NASA and be among the Space Shuttle astronauts. Cited is Shuttle Astronaut Richard Truly whom also later in his career became the Administrator at NASA.

Looking More Familiar – Another Space Station Concept Design

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Here is a more familiar space station concept; a radial design with a central docking station from which to offload crew and supplies. This is not too farfetched for the 1960s when this design was created.

Nuclear Power in Space: A Proposal

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Another concept design, this one includes the use of a SNAP-II atomic power source on the end of a telescoping boom-arm. Because atomic energy was considered to be dangerous the concept design shows the nuclear pile extended away from the main crew quarters and laboratory sections of the orbiting craft.

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14 Responses to “Some Early Space Station Concepts and Designs: Ideas That Were Envisioned Before Their Time”
  1. Ms Blond Girl Says...

    On November 27, 2009 at 11:09 pm

    Top, well researched article :)

    You did a great job here, pictures are well suited to article, Informative, interesting and I learnt a bit more on the history of the future space station.

    Your article writing skills are very advanced.

  2. Lauren Axelrod Says...

    On November 27, 2009 at 11:49 pm

    That tire looking contraption is wicked looking. Cool article.

  3. C Jordan Says...

    On November 28, 2009 at 12:39 am

    Facinating stuff Stickman

  4. Mr Ghaz Says...

    On November 28, 2009 at 2:27 am

    Well done!..highly informative and well-researched article..nice pictures too..cheers my friend.. 8) 8)

  5. Anuradha Ramkumar Says...

    On November 28, 2009 at 3:41 am

    Excellent article. Well researched and detailed one. I really enjoyed those pictures that accompanied the article.

  6. Mitul R Desai Says...

    On November 28, 2009 at 3:59 am

    nice article good informative .

  7. abhishek40914 Says...

    On November 28, 2009 at 11:39 am

    nice article. Well researched,

  8. R J Evans Says...

    On November 29, 2009 at 9:40 am

    A very cool article!

    Blogged at

  9. Brenda Nelson Says...

    On November 30, 2009 at 11:32 pm

    you are right, cool art!

  10. Dr Robert Brignall Says...

    On December 1, 2009 at 7:28 am

    I thought I was up on this stuff, but I learned a lot from this piece. An absorbing read with a cogent and engrossing structure, and a nifty historical perspective.

  11. hassan Says...

    On December 2, 2009 at 6:41 pm

    Thanks for the topic remarkable

  12. AA Says...

    On February 6, 2010 at 4:54 pm

    RE: 1929 detail drawing of space station.

    The “instruments” that the parabolic reflectors are focused on are probably mercury boilers to provide power.

    In 1929 photovoltaic and nuclear power were unknown.

  13. XXElleXX Says...

    On May 7, 2010 at 6:07 am

    Very cool Stick ~ stumbled :-)

  14. mostpopulararticle Says...

    On December 21, 2010 at 7:32 pm

    This article has been indexed inThe Triond Experiment Thanks and goodluck!

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