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PARSECS - 1960

Skybolt

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PARSECS stands for "Program for Astronomical Research and Scientific Experiments Concerning Space". It was a major effort by Boeing starting from the late 1957 to at least 1960 under the Model 854, 855 and 856 designations. Boeing envisioned, with input from preminent scientists and astronomers a complete manned and automatic space exploration program. The subject was covered in numerous reports and papers, one of which I've been able to locate and on which I base this brief post. In this paper at least, Boeing focussed on the space segment of the program, composed by very advanced and complex structures, to be launched and assembled in orbit. The booster is not described but from a couple of hints it is assumed as something like the original Nova described by Rosen and Swenck in late 1959. Taxi from Earth to orbit is performed by a delta-winged glider, similar to the Boeing orignal proposal for Dyna Soar. As with the booster, the glider is taken as a given. PARSECS is organized around Missions, numbered from I to VIII, but this doesn't imply a chronological succession. The missions are:
  • Mission I: Satellite Observatory
  • Mission II: Moon Base
  • Mission III: Counter Moon
  • Mission IV: Interplanetary Probes - automatic
  • Mission V: Close Solar Orbit - automatic
  • Mission VI: Trojan Points Observatories
  • Mission VII: Out-of-the-Elliptic
  • Mission VIII: Planetary Exlorations
The manned art of the program is based on a large standard habitable module, that is fitted with specifical equipment to fulfill the various missions. The module is structurally a cylindrical double shell with two separate presurized bubbles linked by an air lock. You can see a transparent view in first image. One of the desginers of this module was Phil Bono, then working for Boeing. Satellite Observatory (Mission I) is performed linking the basic module with a nuclear reactor (at the end of a long truss) for power generation and what seems a huge parabolic antenna at the other end (a radiotelescope ? a deep space communication antenna ?). Mission II, Moon Colony, is the least detailed Mission in the paper and looks like a collection of large cupolas. The paper states that the image depicts the iriginal concept of the lunar base as envisioned in 1958. The definitive study was done later under the Lunar Observatory part of SR-183 (the Air Force Moon Base), so it was classified.
 

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Skybolt

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Mission III, Counter-Moon is to be established after the Moon Colony, since its objectives are for the most part linked to being the other end of a long interferometric and stereoscopic pair. Mission IV in reality is composed by different sub-missions, all automatic, to the planets. These probes are rather complex, are assembled and launched for Earth orbit, are round-trip vehicles and are propelled by ion thrusters. It seems that they can have surface sub-probes. The model designations are 855-1001 for Mercury, 855-2001 for Venus, 855-4001 for Mars (pictured in image 2) and so on. The large disc seems a solar concentrator for power generation and propulsion. Model 855-0001 (not pictured) is devoted to Mission V, a close-trajectory (10 million miles) Sun observation tour.
 

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Skybolt

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Finally, Mission VIII covers manned exploration of the planets. Pictured is Model 856-6001, that is clearly a vehicle intended for Saturn exploration. The basic module is mated to a long truss with a nuclear reactor at the end and fuel tanks in the middle. The engine seems a ion-thruster, judging by the relative size of the tanks. A long trip time is assumed. The basic module hasn't provisions for artificial G, so that could be a problem. Boeing recognizes that these are long term projects and that the definitive design could well be very different. Nevertheless, all-in-all PARSECS was one of the first comprehensive space exploration proposal that looked to be feasible with reasonable time and efforts.
A final note. At the Seattle World Fair Boeing had a lavishly panels illustrated part of the World Of Tomorrow Pavillion devoted to space exploration. I've never been able to find close-up photos of those displays, but it could well be that PARSECS, or a further evolution, was the inspiration. Anyone out there ?
Source of the info and the images is: " An Interplanetary Exploratory Vehicle" , a paper presented by Wellwood E.Beall, Senior Vice-Presidnet of Boeing - Seattle Division, at the SAE National Aeronautic Meeting, New York, April 5-8 1960. Paper is available via the SAE International website: support the professional associations of aerospace !!!.
 

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Michel Van

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THX for Information

i had somewere picture of Saturn Mission Model, but its lost somewere in my archive

with this model is strange History, because i saw it first on German TV in 1970's
presented by Werner Büdeler in TV series "Aufbruch in den Weltraum"
in the show was the picture of moonbase (SR-183) also in book to the TV series

now how get this 1960 Boeing model to Germany in 1970's ?
and were is it now ? ? ?
 

Barrington Bond

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From "Eagle Book Of Rockets And Space Travel" 1961 by John W R Taylor and Maurice Allward.
 

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Skybolt

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Beautiful images ! Boeing returned on PARSECS in later reports. I am looking for them.
 

Barrington Bond

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Woo! colour!
 

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Skybolt

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Yippie ! Thanx! The originals shown by Boeing at SAE were in colour, but the SAE paper from back then were in B/W only :(
 

RyanCrierie

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These photographs were black and white copeis of color negatives, placed into the COLOR folder -- I guess so you can order them from Archives II. :-\
 

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Skybolt

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Oh, that, it was a "smart" idea of the caption editor: talk about the future photonic rocket and use the illustration for something completely different to "illustrate" it....
 

seaellen

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These artist's concept drawings were done by uncle who worked on PARSECS in 1960. I have b/w negatives of actual pics with explanatory text attached put out by Boeing New Bureau headquartered in Seattle. I was surprised to find them here to.

Great ideas they had then.
 

antigravite

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Hi,

This not meant to be publicity, just clean information sourcing

Some PARSEC material will be auctioned in very soon (june 24 2017) by Grant Zahajko Auctions. Pictures attached below.

Source: "Lot 373: Early Boeing Space Program Concept Art - Description: Late 1950's Boeing space program concept art of the PARSECS, including art by Fetterly. 19x15 inch photographs on board."
http://www.invaluable.com/auction-lot/-1-c-692469FA6F

This includes "Mission VIII"

A.
 

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