Founded in 1933 by Philip Cleator, the British Interplanetary Society (BIS), based in London, is the world's oldest space advocacy society, As well as conventional astronautics and spaceflight it has a long tradition of promoting the more speculative end of the field which features so prominently in hard SF. Arthur C. Clarke was chairman. It has sponsored a series of a space exploration studies, of which Project Daedalus in the 1970s, for an interstellar starship, is most well known.
It current publishes a journal JBIS, news magazine Spaceflight and the history focused Space Chronicle. It is involved in education and hosts a range of talks and conferences across the UK.
It was strongly linked with early British fandom, but the groups moved apart. Under the leadership of fan Gerry Webb the links are strengthening.
|From Fancyclopedia 2 ca 1959
|The British Interplanetary Society, founded in 1933 by P. E. Cleator and Les Johnson of Liverpool. Partly because of a British law hampering actual rocket-fuel experimentation (the Munitions Act of 1875 [!!!] and partly because more of its leadership came from among the stfnists the BIS, unlike the ARS, kept its eye set on the conquest of space, attacking such problems as the oxygen supply, crew and personal equipment, suitable vision equipment and landing gear, and matters of full-scale design. Their plans were given considerable publicity in Great Britain just before World War II and it was reported that critics were unable to demolish them. After a wartime suspension the BIS has been revived with over 2500 members at last report (1956). It has taken a lead in such projects as the foundation of the International Astronautical Federation.
|From Fancyclopedia 1 ca 1944
|The British Interplanetary Society. Partly because a silly law in Great Britain hampered rocket fuel experimentation, and partly because more of the leaders are stfans, the BIS, unlike the ARS, has kept its eye set on the conquest of space, attacking such problems as the oxygen supply, crew and personal equipment, obtaining a stationary view from a spinning ship, and devising a suitable landing gear, in addition to the problem of power. The big difficulty in the fuel problem is that the fuel required to bring the rocket back must be carried to the moon, and the fuel required to take it and the payload back must be lifted the first half by additional fuel, and so on. Under the "step rocket" plan, the weight was prohibitive with available fuels (the BIS calculated entirely on contemporary methods and knowledge). With the cellular rocket, however, which jettisons each rocket motor as soon as it has used up its supply of fuel, and does this very often, it is possible now to send a ship with one ton of payload (men and equipment) to the moon and back with 1000 tons of rocket and fuel (this takes no account of the immense wartime improvements in rocketry). This obviously is still pretty inefficient; but further improvements in fuel will increase efficiency severalfold. The change from step rocket to cell rocket reduced the estimated cost 90%, to about the cost of a destroyer. The ship blueprinted by the BIS to give direction to future work was a tall hexagonal prism, the rocket motors arranged in five sections under the rounded living compartment, with auxiliary steering rockets at the side. A two or three-man crew was contemplated. The plans were given considerable publicity in Great Britain in 1939 and it was reported that critics were unable to demolish them. Then came the war, and the Society suspended for the duration.
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