British Interplanetary Society
|Motto||From imagination to reality|
|Legal status||Non-profit organisation|
|Purpose||UK space advocacy, promotion of astronautics research|
|UK astronautical engineers|
|Affiliations||International Astronautical Federation|
The British Interplanetary Society (BIS), founded in Liverpool in 1933 by Philip E. Cleator, is the oldest space advocacy organisation in the world. Its aim is exclusively to support and promote astronautics and space exploration.
It is a non-profit organisation with headquarters in London and is financed by members' contributions. BIS publishes the academic journal Journal of the British Interplanetary Society and the magazine Spaceflight.
When originally formed in January 1933, the BIS aimed not only to promote and raise the public profile of astronautics, but also to undertake practical experimentation into rocketry along similar lines to the organisations above. However early in 1936, the Society discovered that this ambition was thwarted by the Explosives Act of 1875, which prevented any private testing of liquid-fuel rockets in the United Kingdom.
Important proposals for design of space vehicles
In the late 1930s, the group devised a project of landing people on the Moon by a multistage rocket, each stage of which would have many narrow solid-fuel rockets. Their lander was gumdrop-shaped but otherwise quite like the Lunar Module. As it was considered that the cabin would have to rotate to provide artificial gravity by centrifugal force, the BIS is considered to have invented the first instrument for space travel — a navigation mechanism which would cancel out the rotating view.
In 1978, the Society published a starship study called Project Daedalus, which was a detailed feasibility study for a simple unmanned interstellar flyby mission to Barnard's Star using present-day technology and a reasonable extrapolation of near-future capabilities. Daedalus was to have used a pellet driven nuclear-pulse fusion rocket to accelerate to 12 percent of the speed of light.
The latest in this series of far-reaching studies produced the Project Boreas report, which designed a manned station for the Martian North Pole. The report was short-listed for the 2007 Sir Arthur Clarke Awards in the category of Best Written Presentation.
In 2008, the BIS published 'Interplanetary', a history of the society to date.
Awards given by the society
The science writer Arthur C. Clarke was a well-known former Chairman of the British Interplanetary Society. The society was presented with the first Special Award, from the 2005 Sir Arthur Clarke Awards. This was a gift of Sir Arthur's choice, independent of the judging panel. In 2008, the Society's magazine, Spaceflight, edited by Clive Simpson, was the winner of the award for Best Space Reporting.
- Archibald Low, one of the founder members of the BIS, and its President from 1936-1951.
- British space programme
- National Space Centre
- Project Daedalus
- Project Boreas
- Project Icarus
- McAleer, Neil (1992). Arthur C. Clarke: The Authorized Biography. Chicago: Contemporary Books. ISBN 0-8092-3720-2.