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The ASTRONAUT, June 1937    | FOOTNOTES Page | Obituary Page |





JUNE   l937.


W. Heeley adjusting a rocket in a launch rack

Reproduced by courtesy of the

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The Object of the Society is
To Forward the Science of Astronautics for
Commercial Use by Experimentation or other

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PRICE - 3d.



Printed and published by the Manchester Interplanetary Society
at 41 Longford Place, Manchester 14.

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Issued bi-monthly - Annual subscription 1/6d per annum.

Postage extra.

Price per copy - 3d.

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EDITORIAL      . . . . . . . . .      Page 3.
A Mild Martian Climate  . . . . .       =  4.
R.A.F. Experiment with Rocket Plane     =  5.
The Earth's Twin        . . . . .       =  6.
Astronautics in Gt. Britain  . . .      =  7.
New Members   . . . . . . . . . . .     =  7.
Rocket Mails      . . . . . . . .       =  8.
The President's Visit to
        M. Esnault-Pelterie   . . .    =  10.
An Item of Interest to all Members     =  10.
Letters to the Editor     . . . .      =  11.
Details of the Society     . . .       =  12.

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The picture on the cover depicts Mr. Heeley, surrounded by a group of spectators adjusting his model at the Research Meeting held on March 27th 1937.

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    All contribtions for publication in this journal, must be typewritten or in clear handwriting. Neither the Society or the Editor hold themselves responsible for opinions expressed by contributors to the Journal.

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JOINT EDITORS : M.G.E. Wade & H. Turner.

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 T H E    A S T R O N A U T. 

Journal of

VOL. 1. NO. 2.

JUNE 1937.


    We wish to express our sincere thanks to Mr. Burke, Mr. Cotterill and Mr. Edmondson, for their great assistance during recent events.


    Since the March Research Meeting of the Society, many untrue statements have been circulated; probably not with any malicious intent, but they have, nevertheless, injured considerably the reputation of the society, and we naturally wish to repudiate them and show our readers exactly where they depart from the truth.

    Two photographs were published in a well-known daily newspaper showing a group of spectators gathered round one of our members, who was making adjustments to a metal rocket which he had just fitted into the launching rack. Statements have since been circulated to the effect that the member was not adjusting the rocket, but was IN THE ACT OF LIGHTING IT ! We wish to assure our readers that this accusation is entirely untrue.

    Any ordinary person would instantly realise the danger of igniting a rocket in such close proximity to spectators, so surely we, who can claim without any undue egotism, to have more than an ordinary knowledge of Astronautics and its dangers, can hardly be accused of allowing such an act. We took every precautIon at the meeting and no injuries would have been sustained, by the spectators, had they complied with our warning notices, which requested them to keep at least 300 feet away from the launching racks. To guard against all such contingencies, we have acquired for our future experiments an isolated launching ground in the Pennines. Here it will be impossible for spectators to advance too near the racks, and the experimenters' safety will be guaranteed by forming trenches and igniting the projectiles from a distance by electricity.


    The issue of a first number naturally causes the Editor some anxiety; he wonders principally, how his readers will receive the publication; he is wracked by fears of countless errors being detected by the watchful eyes of critics, and studies anxiously that sure barometer of public opinion - the sales list. I have studied carefully that barometer and it has registered far above my highest expectations. It has registered to such an extent, that we have been unable to supply copies to all those requiring one. Furthermore, I have received to date, no constructive criticisms. In short, I may say that the Journal has been a distinct success. And I have you my readers, to thank for it. Without your support "THE ASTRONAUT" would have been a failure.

I   THANK   YOU  !






By E. Burgess.
(Member of the Manchester Astronomical Society)

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    In May of this year, Mars was in opposition, (i.e. opposite to the sun in the sky) and only about 48,000,000 miles away from the Earth.

    It has often been argued that Mars is a frigid world and that voyagers to the planet would find conditions there extremely uncomfortable. In my opinion, however, Mars has a mild climate, and contrary to popular belief, "astronauts" would not be frozen on its surface.

    The first fact which causes me to take this view, is the phenomena of the polar caps. Before I continue, I will briefly describe this occurrence.

    At the time of the Martian spring in the southern hemisphere, (the changes in the northern hemisphere are similar, but take place at the opposite portion of Mar's orbit) a vast white cap covers the pole of the planet. Surrounding this in a bluish-green region and farther northwards still, are the immense stretches of reddish ochre tracts. As the spring advances, the polar cap begins to dwindle in size, and as these so-called "snow-fields" melt, a wave of seasonal change sweeps northward to the equator.

    An area of hundreds of square miles of the cap melts daily, and a dark band often appears surrounding it on all sides. This band is the darkest marking upon the planet's disc, and it is of a blue colour. Its width corresponds with the bluish-green tracts, being widest where these are most prevalent.

    As the cap shrinks still further, this band follows it. Thus it is shown to be not a permanent feature of the disc, but only a temporary one, depending directly on the waning of the cap itself. This suggests water at the edge of the melting snow and it has been found that the band polarises light as would a sheet of water.

    Some authorities are of the opinion that this vast white area consists of solid carbon dioxide (CO2, but as carbon dioxide changes immediately from the solid to the gaseous state and does not become a liquid, we are at a loss to account for the bluish band which surrounds the shrinking cap. Also, if it were xxx carbon dioxide, what has happened to the water which originally existed upon the planet ? Surely this, must have been frozen before the carbon dioxide and therefore when the latter melts we should see below it another cap of white, the cap of snow and ice. As we do not see such a cap, either there was never any water on Mars or the cap is not carbon dioxide or, for that matter, any substance with a freezing point below that of water. The spectroscope, however, says that water does exist upon Mars, and in a gaseous state. Therefore the temperature must be great enough to evaporate the water and the caps must be snow ice not carbon dioxide.

    As the caps are of frozen water, we can then





state that the climate must be extemely mild, for even at the poles, the temperature rises to such a height as to completely melt the whole cap. If it is so warm at the poles, how warm it must be at the equator !

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    The second theory as to a mild Martian climate is a little harder to explain, but I will do this in as simple a manner as possible.

    As a planet loses its original heat, it gradually becomes colder, until its crust is cool enough to allow water to condense upon it, and an atmosphere to surround it. When the planet has lost nearly all its original heat, it passes through a glacial stage, as did the Earth during the ice-age. Another factor, however, makes its appearance . . . solar heat. The constituents of the atmosphere of a planet have the power to trap heat from the rays of the sun and to impart this heat to the the planet. Some gases possess this power to a remarkable degree, but when the planet has a great deal of water-vapour in the atmosphere, the clouds formed by this vapour shield the solar radiations and tend to prevent the accumulation of heat.

    It can be stated, therefore, that the solar heat of a body, depends upon three things :-

    1) Actual amount of solar radiation received,

    2) The heat-trapping power of the atmosphere,

    3) The time which has elapsed since the process began.

    On Mars the amount of heat received from the sun is 0.43 of that received by Earth.

    A great percentage of the heat-rays are absorbed by the planet's atmosphere, thus giving the reflected light a decidedly red tint.

    The time has been Ionger on Mars, for with it having only one-ninth the Earth's mass, it would cool much quicker and the atmosphere would form much sooner than the Earth's. Consequently Mars has been accumulating heat for a much longer period than the Earth and the climate will therefore be quite mild.

    This article of mine will surely raise many controversial points, and if readers will send their complaints and arguments to the "Letters to the Editor" page of the "ASTRONAUT" I will attempt to answer all such correspondence through that medium.


    According to press reports, the R.A.F. are making experiments with a fighter 'plane using the principle of rocket propulsion incorporated with the normal propeller. The exhaust gases and the air which cools the engine, are employed to give a rocket-like thrust through vents in the wing edge, so assisting the work of the propeller. It is said that this arrangement can only be used on machines designed for speeds of over 300 miles per hour

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T H E  E A R T H ' S  T W I N.

By S. Davies.

    When the first space-ship is launched, its objective will undoubtely be the 'Earth's Twin', which is of course, the Moon. For Luna, our satellite, is the nearest celestial body, and at its closest approach is only some 221,000 miles away. But as the Moon revolves round the Earth in an elliptical orbit, its distance is sometimes as much as 252,970 miles. There are many factors governing the motion of the Moon - the Earth, the Sun and the other planets - yet its orbit has been calculated so accurately, that at the time of an eclipse, if the Moon is even so much as an inch out of its estimated position, the shadow thrown upon the Earth's surface is displaced by 25 feet !

    The mean diameter of the Moon is only 2,160 miles, or little more than a quarter of the Earth's diameter. The Earth is 49 times greater than the Moon in volume, yet in mass, it is over 80 times as great ! Owing to this enormous difference in size and density, the gravitation upon the Moon is only one sixth that of the Earth.

    The Lunar surface reflects about one sixth of the total sunlight that falls upon it, and the brightness of the full Moon is said to be equal to that of a hundred candle power lamp, seen at a distance of 22 yards. Beneath the Sun's scorching rays, the ground temperature rises above the boiling point of water; but in the shadow the temperature may reach -244oF. Thus, there are amazing contrasts of heat and cold in the course of a lunar day and night, with a range of nearly 460o.

    There are two theories as to the Moon's origin that have been advanced. One, that it was thrown off by the Earth in a long gone day, due to the centifrugal force generated by the extremely rapid rotation; the other, that the Earth and the Moon were formed at the same time. But modern dynamics show that a combined Earth and Moon would not break up, and so, although the other theory is not definitely proven, it seems to be the more correct one.

    Shall we ever be able to reach the Moon ? This question has always fascinated mankind. When, at the end of the eighteenth century, man invented balloons, it was asserted that sooner or later it would be possible to make a voyage to the Moon in a balloon ! That however, was based upon the assumption that the space between the Earth and Moon was filled by an atmosphere in which a balloon could float. But, of course, to reach the Moon. we have to travel through a vacuum. We know, from Newton's third law of motion, that a vehicle constructed on the principle of a rocket will travel throught through space, and at the moment it is the only known means of interplanetary travel.

    The first voyagers to the Moon, will find it a strange, inhospitable world - no atmosphere; a scorching day, fourteen times as long as on Earth, and a frigid night of similar length; vast 'mares' and huge craters; - a dead world. Not an attractive picture - but the Moon serves but as first conquest for the science of astronautics, and it is only a matter of time before a reaction propelled vessel is heading for the Earth's twin.






By H. Turner.

    The development of astronautics in Gt. Britain is seriously restricted. By the Explosives Act of 1875, the use of liquid fuels in experiments is banned, and so the most important division of research work - the testing of reaction motors - must be forsaken. The only practical work that can be made consists chiefly of methods of launching, parachute release devices and the study of rocket design and the use of fins.

    It has been suggested that 'dead' models fired by a catapult would enable rocket design to be studied, but in my opinion this is not the best method. When fired by a catapult, the initial velocity of the projectile would be its maximum speed; the rapidity of motion would decrease as the model travelled forward. But this is directly opposite to the true motion of a rocket, which gradually accelerates after being launched, until its supply of fuel is exhausted and its thrust is overcome by gravity.

    However, the M. I. S. decided that the use of powder fuel was a better way out of the difficulty, although there are many limitations to it.

    In addition to rocket design, the study of orifice design may also be carried on, by this method, as well as methods of launching and parachute release.

    A brief account of some of the shapes experimented with during the last few months of 1936 appeared in the last journal.

    During these experiments, experience is gained in the construction of rockets that will stand us in good stead when permission is eventually granted to experiment with liquid fuels. Then again, work is being carried on at the research station - building adjustable launching racks, digging trenches, and plans have been made for a system to fire the projectiles by electricity, and the erection of a proving stand.

    And so, hoping finally for liquid fuels, we are making our preparations.

"The Society's Guiding schemes for 1936" by E. Burgess and
M.G.E. Wade.

Society notepaper may be obtained from Headquarters by members.
Price - 1/3d per 100 sheets and envelopes at 1/-
per 100, plus postage.

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     Since the last issue of the Journal, the following members
                        have been elected -

 Mr. R. H. Edmondson, Manchester.  Mr. W. Williamson, Ashton.
 Mr. E. Goldblatt, Preston         Mr. T. Cassinelli, Sheffield.
                   Mr. C. Davenport, Salford







    The first attempts to carry mails by rocket aeroplanes by the Dutch rocket inventor, Herr J. K. Roberti, were made on April 3rd 1935. Two rocket 'planes, made for him by the Nederlandse Rackettenbouw, were used. Manufactured from steel, they took the form of monoplanes which were practically tailless. The centre section was streamlined and had two small horizontal fins at the rear. The wings, of equal width throughout their length, were fixed to the centre near the nose and had a pronounced backward sweep. This section was used for carrying the mail and had a charge of powder fuel. Owing to the use of steel in their construction, they were not a success, flying only 150 metres (about 492 feet). The flights took place near the Hague, the 'planes being named "Icarus" and "Santos Dumont".

    Special stamps were issued by the Rocket Company, in small sheets of four. Triangular in shape they were typographed in purple (Icarus) and in brown (Santos Dumont), The centre design for the Icarus shows a tailless rocket 'plane flying over a mountain range. That for the Santos Dumont shows a transatlantic 'plane, but it is not possible to see whether it is intended to represent any particular one. On the near wing are the words 'Amsterdam - New York', the far one having 'New - York' only. The words Rakettvliegtuig and Proef in Nederland are on two sides of each design and there are the date and initials of the company across the back. Each letter carried, has one of the stamps and two hexagonal cachets, one cancelling the stamp. All letters carried were numbered, and those for the Icarus had the autograph 'K. Roberti' in addition. Dutch 1½ cent stamps, cancelled by an indecipherable post-mark dated April 23rd, paid ordinary postage, a Hague back-stamp for the 26th also being affixed.

    A trial flight was made in July, in Luxembourg, by the Roberti rocket 'plane "Luxembourgia". This was the first to use liquid fuel. I have not, however, seen any letters sent on this flight, and so cannot describe them. The flight was criticisd by the Congrèss de la Fedération Internationale Philatelique, meeting in Luxembourg, on the grounds there was no proof that the flight had taken place. Possibly no official witness was present when the flight took place as later the Congrès passed a resolution condemning all letters carried by Rocket Post as speculative and useless as a contribution to the development of transport by air mail.

    Herr Roberti made his next rocket flight on the Albert Plage, near Heyst - Duinbergen. The Rocket 'plane "De Schelde" and Rocket P.26, on exhibition at the Belgian Rocket Society's headquarters in Brussels, were taken to Duinbergen on September 4th. The De Schelde was a monoplane of more normal appearance, small aircraft type of fins being fitted to the tail. Launched from a slide at 9 p.m., the De Schelde covered 38 metres (about 105 feet) before exploding and destroying a great part of the mail.

    According to the Nederlandse Philatelist, 15th June 1936, 450 letters were carried, official witnesses being given as M. Gobert, son of the Duinbergen town secretary, and a M. Heyst.





    Envelopes carried have an orange cachet inscribed in Dutch, a small circular blue cachet "Duinbergen - 4th Sept. 1935 Raketvluchten" and the autograph "K. Roberti" in green on the face. On the reverse are the words "Beschadigd door ontploffing der R. V. 3 te Albert Plage" (Damaged by the explosion of the R. V. 3 at Albert Plage).

    The Belgian stamps paying postage were cancelled by a Duinbergen post-mark dated 5.XI.'35 in some cases, and the remainder have the date 5.IX.'35. These and all letters afterwards carried, have a small white lettered, blue label, "Mit Rakete - Par Fusée" or "Par Fusée" affixed in the top left-hand corner of the envelope. All are numbered.

    Herr Roberti's next flights took place at the aviation meeting held by the "Comité de Fêtes du Tréport", and the "Aero-club Picardie" on September 8th 1935. Here he used the rocket plane "Guynemer", a monoplane similar in appearance to a rocket, with a blunt streamlined nose and a tapering three finned tail, the total length being 1.25 metres. The wings were oblong in shape and dipping towards their tips. A slide made from planks bolted together and braced by battens fixed at right-angles to their sides was used for the launch. The "Guynemer", fired at 5.30 p.m., exploded on its stand owing to a fault in the fuel container. Fortunately no one was hurt.

    Special stamps were not issued for this flight, each letter bearing two circular cachets in red. One, almost indecipherable, appears to be some kind of official stamp with the word "Republique Française" between the upper halves of two circles and "Maire" in the centre. The second, made up of a circle of words referring to the aviation meeting, "Le Tréport . . ." etc., has the usual rocket 'plane design in the centre, a statement that the flight was the first by rocket 'plane ln France, the number, R.V.4, the date and "Inventeur Charles Roberti." All are autographed and have an announcement refering to the exploslon on the back. Postage stamps value 15 centimes are cancellel with Le Tréport Seine Inférieure postmark, dated 9.9.'35.

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    We are indebted to the proprietors of 'The Aeroplane' for their kind permission to reproduce extracts from 'The Aeroplane' June 3rd 1936, in the above article.

Rocket Mail cachets

1 shows a hexagonal cachet used on the letters carried by the mail rocket "Santos Dumont".
2 shows the orange cachet used on the letters carried by the rocket 'plane "De Schelde"; the greater part of these mails were destroyed by the explosion






    It was 8.30 a.m. when I boarded the 'bus at the Jardin du Luxembourg and set out for St. Cloud. After an uneventful journey, I at last arrived at the terminus. Descending, I began a lengthy search for a gendarme, and having found one, after an equally lengthy discussion in French, I found that I had gone too far on the 'bus. I had quite a long walk back to the Rue des Abondanees, and it was nearly half-past nine when I reached number 37. A few minutes wait, and I was shown into an office, where I was told that M. Esnaulte-Pelterie had not yet arrived. However, it was not very long before the great pioneer of aviation and astronautics made his appearance. After the usual formalities, we went into his private office and began to talk on matters interplanetary.

    On the subject of orifice design, M. Esnaulte-Pelterie stated that from his calculations, he belleved in the supremacy of short nozzle over the longer American designs. Upon hearing that the M. I. S. has been using short nozzles in their experiments, he was curious to know how we had decided on this design. Our decision was, of course, reached by experiment and not by calculation.

    We discussed many other subjects, including that of constancy of combustion and pressure in a reaction-motor using powder fuel, and the importance of theoretical work, supplemented by experiments made only after the theories have been evolved. M. Esnaulte-Pelterie mentioned several interesting ideas regarding powder fuel driven projectiles. He then showed me some of his intricate calculations on alternating current.

    He autographed a number of books that he had written, and presented them to me. They were -

    "L'Astronautique" and its "Complement",

    "Vie et Travail Scientifique.I." and "II".

and his autobiography.

    And so, after a very delightful interview, in which our work was encouraged, I prepared to depart.

    I am sorry to say however that M. Esnaulte-Pelterie was not very well at the time of my visit. I wished him a speedy recovery, and I am sure that all followers of astronautics, throughout the world, will agree with me in wishing him this.

    I returned to Paris by Métro, with many happy remembrances of a memorable interview.


    The following paragraph appeared in the journal of the German reaction motor experimenters, "Das Neue Fahrzeug", for May 31st 1937 -

    'In England hat sich eine zweite Gesellschaft für Weltraumfahrt unter dem Namen Manchester Interplanetary Society gebildet. Unter den Mitglieders befinden sich zahlreiche junge Leute, die sich hauptsächlich der praktischen Versucharbeit




widmen wollen.'

A translation of this reads . . .

    'A second society for the investigation of stratosphere and interplanetary travel, has been inaugurated in England, under the name of the Manchester Interplanetary Society. Among its members are several young people who wish to devote their energies to practical research.'

 L E T T E R S  T O  T H E  E D I T O R. 

    In this department are printed letters from readers on astronautical and related subjects. It makes no difference if your letters are complimentary or critical, they are all welcome. This journal is published for you, so do not hesitate to voice your opinions. Address all letters to :- H. Turner, 41, Longford Place, Victoria Park, Manchester 14.

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Dear Editor,
    I was very glad to see the first issue of your journal. Of course, there are many improvements that can be made, but on the whole, the first copy was quite a good effort. As I am interested in rocket mails, I should be very pleased if you would give me brief details of their history.
Thanking you,

Yours sincerely,
J. Masters.

(So far as we know, the first rocket mail flights took place in Austria, about May 1934, from the Shocket to Radegund or Kunberg, in the neighbourhood of Graz. The rockets were propelled by powder fuel, and covered distances of 1 to 2½ miles. An attempt was made at Lymmington, Hants, England at the beginning of 1935 by the German inventor, Herr Gerhard Zucker.
The object was to carry mails from the mainland to the Isle of Wight, but the experiment was stopped because no permission had been received from the Home Office. The Dutch, Belgian and French attempts followed, as described in the article in this issue. The first American rocket mail plane, using liquid fuel, flew on February 23rd 1936, at Greenwood Lake, New Jersey, U.S.A. There will be another article on rocket malls in the next issue, which should prove of interest to you. – Ed.)

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Dear Editor,
    I was interested to see a report of your Society, but I am afraid that your idea of travelling through space in a rocket propelled vehicle is based upon a fallacy. Namely, there is nothing for the exhaust gases to push against once the machine is out of the atmosphere. At the start, the gases are pushing against the ground and the air, but once out in space, there is no resistance and the machine will not work.
Hoping you will see my point,

Yours faithfully,
E. C. Clark.

(It is surprising the large number of otherwise intelligent people, who believe that a rocket must have something to push against in order to fly. A rocket works by reaction, and will function with greater efficiency in a vacuum than in air, because air resistance impedes its progress. In its simplest form, the reaction motor consists of a combustion chamber, in which the fuel is burnt, and a nozzle, through which the resultant highly compressed gases are expelled. This expulsion of the



gases causes a reaction against the chamber walls, similar to the recoil in a gun, which forces the projectile forward.–Ed.

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President            . . . . . .      E. Burgess.
Secretary            . . . . . .      W. Heeley.
Joint Secretary      . . . . . .      H. Turner.
Treasurer            . . . . . .      T. Cusack.
Librarian            . . . . . .      J. Broadbent.


E. Burgess, W. Heeley, M. G. E. Wade, S. Davies,
T. Cusack, H. Turner.

The Society will accept no responsibility for experiments made without the written approval and consent of the official Research Committee.


Membership of the Society is open to persons of either sex and any nationality.

ASSOCIATE MEMBERS  cannot become officials of the Society,
                   but have the power to vote in all
                   general affairs of the Society. The
                   Subscription is 2/6d per annum.

MEMBERS have the power to apply for a position on the
                   Committee and to vote in all affairs
                   of the Society. The Subscription is 5/-
                   per annum.

A Member may become a FELLOW if he or she satisfies the Committee that he or she is worthy of the honour.

For further particulars, and enrolment forms apply to:-
The Secretary, 25 Crayford Road, Manchester 10.


The Society has a library from which books may be borrowed by members. For full details, apply to the Librarian - 81 Astley St., Clayton, Manchester 11.


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