Gregory Benford on Science Fiction Facing Facts

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When German rocket scientist Wernher Von Braun immigrated to the United States after World War II, he took to the pages of Collier's magazine to launch one of the most influential popular science writing series of all time. Beginning with the March 22, 1952 issue, Von Braun sketched out his vision of a manned space program—starting with orbiting and spinning space stations, working through lunar landings, and culminating in a massive expedition to Mars. Illustrated by the great astronomical artist Chesley Bonestell, the series fired the imaginations of a generation of tech lovers; it was science fiction with all the rivets showing. Many cite it as the true beginning of the U.S. space program. And as Contributing Editor Gregory Benford explains, even though NASA has now fizzled, Von Braun's exuberant vision lives on.

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