Born: 1917. Died: 2008-03-19.
Arthur C. Clarke was one of the most well known of science fiction authors. He has also been an eloquent writer on behalf of the exploration of space. In 1945, before the invention of the transistor, Clarke wrote an article in Extraterrestrial Relays describing the possibility of geosynchronous orbit and the development of communication relays by satellite. He also wrote several novels, the most well-known was 2001: A Space Odyssey, based on a screenplay of the same name he prepared for Stanley Kubrick. The movie is still one of the most realistic depictions of the rigors of spaceflight ever to be filmed.
Awakening public interest in the United States and in Europe was manifested by publication in September 1949 of The Conquest of Space by Willy Ley. Ley featured detailed descriptions of orbital space stations and manned flights to the Moon and back as part of man's quest to conquer the frontier of space. The First Symposium on Space Flight was held 12 October 1951 at the Hayden Planetarium in New York City. Papers read at the Symposium were published in March 1952 by Collier's magazine under the title 'Man Will Conquer Space Soon.' Contributors were Wernher von Braun, Joseph Kaplan, Heinz Haber, Willy Ley, Oscar Schachter, and Fred L. Whipple. Topics ranged from manned orbiting space station) and orbiting astronomical observatories to problems of human survival in space, lunar space ventures, and questions of international law and sovereignty in space. Finally, Arthur C. Clarke's The Exploration of Space, first published in England in 1951 and a Book of the Month Club selection in America the following year, persuasively argued the case for orbital space stations and manned lunar and planetary space expeditions, popularizing the notion of space flight in general.