Looking through YouTube, I found that someone had made an animated video about the spacecraft depicted in Steward Cowley’s Spacecraft: 2000 to 2100 (London: Hamlyn 1978).
The book’s supposed to be a handbook of 21st century spacecraft, published by the Terran Trade Authority. In fact, it’s a collection of illustrations from SF book covers by the great space artists Angus McKie, Bob Layzell, Tony Roberts and others, which Cowley then described as real spacecraft. These were part of a ‘future history’ of human space exploration and colonisation which included humans travelling to encounter intelligent alien civilisations on Proxima and Alpha Centauri, and fighting a war with the Proximans. As well as Spacecraft 2000-2100, Cowley also wrote Great Space Battles, the Tourist’s Guide to Transylvania, based on Horror book covers, and Home Brain Surgery and Other Household Skills. The artwork is stunningly beautiful. Here are a few examples.
As with so many books on space written in the 1970s, it had a timeline of what we could expect in the coming decades, predictions which now seem hopelessly dated and optimistic. For example, the ‘key historical dates’ in Spacecraft: 2000 to 2100 are
1987 – Introduction of nuclear powered engines: ion and plasma systems.
1990 – Foundation of the World Community Research Council.
1998 – WCRC North African Space Research Centres now operational.
1999 – World Trade Authority formed to co-ordinate international commerce.
2004 – The first spacefreighter, Colonial I, enters service.
2005 – Work starts on Lunar Station.
2011 – Lunar Station operational.
2012 – Work starts on Mars Station.
2014 – Introduction of the McKinley Ion Ultradrive in Colonial II.
2015 – Martian Queen makes first commercial passenger flight to Mars.
2018 – First shipment of new alloys from Lunar industry.
2027 – Warp0 Generator perfected by Henri devas.
2036 – Manned survey ship makes contact with Alpha Centaurians.
2038 – Language barrier broken.
2039 – Trade & Technology Exchange Agreement signed with Alpha.
– World Trade Authority becomes Terran Trade Authority.
2041 – First orbital industrial centre off Jupiter completed.
2042 – First Energy Absorbent Defence Shield (EADS) produced by the TTA.
2045 – Dr Hans Berger introduces the Gravity-Resist Generator.
2046 – Mars Shipyards completed.
2047 – Pathfinder IX Survey Ship destroyed by Proxima Centauri.
– Alpha Centauri attacked.
2048 – Interstellar Queen destroyed by Proxima Centauri.
– War declared.
2049 – Terran Defence Authority formed.
2052 – Battle for Mars.
2060 – Invasion of Proxima Centauri.
2068 – Peace Treaty negotiated.
2073 – First jet tube opened on Earth, between Europe and America.
2078 – First settler ship leaves for Arcturus.
2090 – Second settler ship.
2096 – Starblade introduced as first Alpha spaceliner.
Here’s the video: