Web posted at 2:45 p.m. EST
From Correspondent Garrick Utley
NEW YORK (CNN) -- The wonder of a science-fiction view of a space station docking was depicted in the 1968 film "2001: A Space Odyssey."
Last week, we saw the reality of a space docking on the current mission to build the International Space Station.
How well do fiction and reality meet in space?
Look at the vision of artist Chesley Bonestell in 1952, long before the first man went into space. He depicted the shuttle with wings, astronauts on spacewalks ... and an orbiting space station.
Vincent Di Fate, a leading illustrator of space, understands the purpose of science fiction in words and images.
"Whether they were accurate or not, and many of them proved not to be accurate, they created a credible vision for a time when people needed some means to accept ideas about the future and the possibilities of space development," Di Fate says.
Space is fascinating. It is also infinite, and that can make it difficult for mere mortals to grasp.
Not only those of us who are only occasionally interested in space exploration but also those who devote their lives to it.
They too need inspiration, that jolt of a new idea.
Jules Verne provided the first jolt in 1865, describing a rocket fired from a cannon that goes to the moon.
The pioneers of rockets, including Robert Goddard, read Verne, H.G. Wells, and others as they developed rockets that would eventually take man to the moon.
More than a decade before the launch of the first satellite, science fiction writer Arthur Clarke predicted how a few communications satellites could link the entire planet.
At NASA, researcher John Mankins thinks like a science-fiction writer, imagining new programs and concepts.
His plan for a magnetic levitation launch system, he says, is remarkably similar to one that appeared in the 1951 movie "When Worlds Collide."
And why not?
Science, like fiction, begins with imagination.
And in space, as in fiction, there are no limits to where imagination can take you.
Back to the top
© 2000 Cable News Network. All Rights Reserved.
Terms under which this service is provided to you.
Read our privacy guidelines.