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Entries in general dynamics astronautics (5)


Travel to Nearby Stars (1963)

As you might recall, the booklet 2063 A.D. was sealed in the General Dynamics time capsule in 1963 and contains predictions about what advancements we will see in space by the year 2063. Today we have the (rather succinct) predictions of Dr. William H. Pickering, President of the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics:

My "100 year forecast" as follows:

  1. There will be travel at relativistic velocities to the nearby stars with manned spacecraft which will explore other planetary systems.
  2. There will be permanent scientific colonies at various places throughout the solar systems.


Previously on Paleo-Future:



2063 A.D. Book (1963)

Due to popular demand, I have uploaded a free PDF of the book 2063 A.D. in its entirety. To purchase a print copy of the book you can find it at my Lulu storefront.

For those just joining us, 2063 A.D. was a book published in 1963 by General Dynamics Astronautics. The book asked politicians, military commanders and scientists to speculate as to where humanity would be, a hundred years hence, in the great push towards space.

A copy of the limited print book (only 200 are believed to have been produced) was included in the time capsule at General Dynamics Astronautics headquarters in San Diego. The building was torn down in the late 1990s and the time capsule is believed to have perished. The book gives some great insight into the general sense of optimism that so typifies 1960s futurism. Space colonies? Sure! Martian life? Why not! Teleportation? Easier than commercial space flight!

See also:
General Dynamics Astronautics Time Capsule (1963)
Broken Time Capsule (1963-1997)
Lyndon B. Johnson on 2063 A.D. (1963)
Edmund G. Brown's Californifuture (1963)
James B. Utt on Space Travel (1963)
Air Force Predictions for 2063 (1963)


Air Force Predictions for 2063 (1963)

The 1963 book, 2063 A.D., includes the predictions of Brigadier General Irving L. Branch. Branch was a commander at the Air Force Flight Test Center and predicted that by 2063 exploration of the near planets (Mars, Venus, Jupiter and Saturn) will have been accomplished with manned vehicles. He also predicted that the moon and Mars will be heavily populated with researchers living in space colonies.

His contribution to the book appears below.

1. What kind of space vehicles do you think man will be using?


In the year 2063, a broad spectrum of space transportation systems will exist. Fusion power will provide the primary energy source for the large space transports of 2063. Single stage, high thrust recoverable boosters using a conventional thermal rocket engine propulsion cycle will provide ascent capability from the surface of earth or other planets, whereas low thrust electric propulsion will give an efficient means of transport in the low acceleration environment of free space between the planets. Both chemical and nuclear propulsion will, however, be used as required to extend the operational domain of man.

2. How far out in space will we have moved?

Thorough exploration of the near planets - Mars, Venus, Jupiter and Saturn - by manned vehicles will have been accomplished by 2063. Preliminary manned exploration of the outer planets and all secondary bodies of the solar system as well as comets will be in process. A major effort will be fully organized to develop a transportation system for manned exploration of our closer stellar neighbors.

3. What sort of colonization will have taken place on other planets?

Population of the moon will have attained 100,000 by 2063. Primary products of the lunar colony will be rocket propellants for planetary exploration. Mars will attain a population of 10,000 by 2063, though rate of growth at that time will far exceed that of the moon. Population centers of the moon and Mars will consist primarily of research and engineering personnel with supporting technicians. Colonies will contain an acceptable mix of both male and female personnel. Development of these extra-terrestrial colonies will occur employing a transport mechanism operating with a steadily reducing crew return rate, i.e., emphasis will be given to encouraging a oneway system of space transport. Scientific and economic information will be readily communicated between the colonies though personnel and cargo will tend to remain fixed upon first delivery to the specified target body of the solar system.

4. Will we have moved closer to a one-world concept in our space efforts?

The one-world concept in our space efforts will not be particularly strengthened because of steady improvements made in propulsive capabilities. Independent scientific exploration and economic development of our solar system by many nations will be possible prior to 2063, due to readily available low cost propulsive systems.

5. What will ballistic missiles be used for?

Ballistic missiles will not be employed as a weapon system by 2063 due to development of other more lethal military systems and due to increased international competition in the scientific exporation and economic development of our solar system.

6. What natural resources will be taxing in outer space?

No extra-terrestrial natural resources will be taxed with direct monetary return to earth though the growing economic systems of the lunar and planetary colonies will maintain independent taxation for maintenance and development of local activities. Monetary benefits to the international bodies on the earth will accrue only through application of scientific information derived from interplanetary and interstellar exploration.

7. What commercial ventures will have derived from this feature?

Space transportation will have comprise the bulk of interplanetary activities though the primary goals of such extra-terrestrial colony will be the extraction of scientific data and transmission of this information.

See also:
General Dynamics Astronautics Time Capsule (1963)
Broken Time Capsule (1963-1997)
Lyndon B. Johnson on 2063 A.D. (1963)
Edmund G. Brown's Californifuture (1963)
James B. Utt on Space Travel (1963)



Broken Time Capsule (1963-1997)

Since my first post about the General Dynamic Astronautics Time Capsule of 1963, we've learned that it was likely crushed when the building was torn down sometime in 1997. As noted in the comments, 201 copies were produced and distributed to major universities, which is where I happened upon the copy I now have in hand.

It makes you wonder just how many time capsules are destroyed each year when a building is torn down to make way for development of another kind.

The image above is from the second page of the 2063 A.D. book and shows the burying of the time capsule on July 13, 1963. I'll do my best to scan the entire book before returning it to the library.

See also:
General Dynamics Astronautics Time Capsule (1963)
Year 2000 Time Capsule (1958)


General Dynamics Astronautics Time Capsule (1963)

The booklet 2063 A.D., published by General Dynamics Astronautics, was placed into a time capsule in July of 1963. It contains predictions by scientists, politicians, astronauts and military commanders about the state of space exploration in the year 2063. The introduction to the book appears below.

This archive records the predictions sealed in a time capsule during ceremonies commemorating the fifth anniversary of the dedication of the General Dynamics Astronautics facility. The time capsule is located on the west ramp entrance of the General Dynamics Astronautics facility at 5001 Kearny Villa Road, San Diego, California. The capsule is to be opened on July 13, 2063.

See also:
The Tricentennial Report: Letters From America (1977)
Tricentennial Report Ad (Oakland Tribune, 1976)
Journey Into Space (Time Magazine, 1952)
Year 2000 Time Capsule (1958)