Journal of the British Interplanetary Society
The Journal of the British Interplanetary Society (JBIS) is a technical scientific journal
Scientific journal
In academic publishing, a scientific journal is a periodical publication intended to further the progress of science, usually by reporting new research. There are thousands of scientific journals in publication, and many more have been published at various points in the past...

, first published in 1934. JBIS is concerned with space science
Space science
The term space science may mean:* The study of issues specifically related to space travel and space exploration, including space medicine.* Science performed in outer space ....

 and space technology. The journal is edited and published monthly in the United Kingdom
United Kingdom
The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern IrelandIn the United Kingdom and Dependencies, other languages have been officially recognised as legitimate autochthonous languages under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages...

 by the British Interplanetary Society
British Interplanetary Society
The British Interplanetary Society founded in 1933 by Philip E. Cleator, is the oldest space advocacy organisation in the world whose aim is exclusively to support and promote astronautics and space exploration.-Structure:...


Although the journal maintains high standards of rigorous peer review, the same with other journals in astronautics, it stands out as a journal willing to allow measured speculation on topics deemed to be at the frontiers of our knowledge in science. The boldness of journal in this respect, marks it out as containing often speculative but visionary papers on the subject of astronautics.


The British Interplanetary Society was originally founded in 1933 by Philip E Cleator in the city of Liverpool, England. Cleator was interested in rockets and set about starting his own society. This began with his article "The Possibilities of Interplanetary
Travel" published in Chambers Journal in January 1933. After initially failing to attract sufficient members, he then approached the Editor of the Liverpool Echo with his article. This resulted in the publication of an appeal in the 8th September 1933 issue of the Echo. As a result of this article, a correspondent from Daily Express, N.E.Moore Raymond, interviewed Cleator and eventually an article appeared on the front page of the Express proposing to set up such a society. This resulted in further interest and the British Interplanetary Society was eventually formed. The first meeting took place in Liverpool on Friday 13th October 1933. Cleator was to serve as the first President.

The first task of the founder was to set out the purpose and objectives of the new society which was recorded in volume 1 of the Journal of the British Interplanetary Society and this is how the journal was created. The article stated:

"The ultimate aim of the society, of course, is the conquest of space and thence interplanetary travel.....(the)immediate task is the stimulation of public interest in the subject of interplanetary travel and the dissemination of knowledge concerning the true nature of the difficulties which as present hinder its achievements."

Because the dissemination of the societies objectives was best achieved by the publication of a regular article, it was decided to properly print the journal initially on a quarterly basis with Cleator appointed as the first Editor. A challenge faced
with those early members of the society was to fund and compile the journal in order to maintain a regular schedule. The first issue of JBIS was only a six-page pamphlet but it does have the distinction of being the worlds oldest surviving astronautical publication, given that the BIS is the oldest organisation in the world still in its original form.


The Journal publishes papers on a wide variety of subjects relating to the field of astronautics. This includes:
spacecraft design, nozzle theory, launch vehicle design, mission architecture, space stations, lunar exploration, space propulsion, advanced space propulsion, robotic exploration of the solar system, manned exploration of the solar system, interstellar travel
Interstellar travel
Interstellar space travel is manned or unmanned travel between stars. The concept of interstellar travel in starships is a staple of science fiction. Interstellar travel is much more difficult than interplanetary travel. Intergalactic travel, or travel between different galaxies, is even more...

, interstellar communications, extraterrestrial intelligence, philosophy and cosmology.

Famous Papers

Throughout its history many papers have been published in the journal which stand out as pioneering in the field. These include:
  • BIS Moon ship papers by Val Cleaver, Les Shepherd and Ralph Smith as well as others, 1939.
  • The challenge of the spaceship paper by Arthur C Clarke, 1946.
  • Atomic rocket papers by Les Shepherd, Val Cleaver and others, 1948-1949.
  • First technical paper on Interstellar Flight by Les Shepherd, 1952.
  • Paper on a programme for achieving interplanetary flight by Val Cleaver, 1954.
  • World Ship papers by Alan Bond and Tony Martin, 1984.
  • Project Daedalus special supplement papers by Alan Bond, Tony Martin and several others, 1978.
  • Project Boreas, A Station for the Martian Geographic North Pole, Charles Cockell and other, 2006.

Famous Contributors

The journal is renowned for its diverse content from the professional physicist to the amateur space enthusiast with an interesting idea they would like to share. All the same, there has been some famous contributors throughout the journals history who have actively worked within the space industry in some capacity:
  • Alan Bond
    Alan Bond (rocket developer)
    Alan Bond is Managing Director of Reaction Engines Ltd and associated with Project Daedalus, Blue Streak missile, HOTOL, Reaction Engines Skylon and the Reaction Engines A2 hypersonic passenger aircraft.- Career :...

  • Arthur C Clarke, Sir
  • Bob Parkinson
  • Charles Cockell
  • Claudio Maccone
  • Dana Andrews
  • Freidwardt Winterberg
  • George Schmidt
  • Gerald Nordley
  • Giovanni Vulpetti
  • Greg Matloff
  • Ian Ridpath
  • Ken Gatland
  • Martyn J Fogg
  • Poul Anderson
  • Robert Forward
  • Robert Zubrin
    Robert Zubrin
    Robert Zubrin is an American aerospace engineer and author, best known for his advocacy of the manned exploration of Mars. He was the driving force behind Mars Direct—a proposal intended to produce significant reductions in the cost and complexity of such a mission...

  • Stephen Baxter
    Stephen Baxter
    Stephen Baxter is a prolific British hard science fiction author. He has degrees in mathematics and engineering.- Writing style :...

  • Terry Kammash
  • Tony Martin
  • William McLaughlin
  • Val Cleaver


In 1982, planetologist Christopher McKay was the first person to use the word terraforming
Terraforming of a planet, moon, or other body is the hypothetical process of deliberately modifying its atmosphere, temperature, surface topography or ecology to be similar to those of Earth, in order to make it habitable by terrestrial organisms.The term is sometimes used more generally as a...

 in a published journal article in an article called "Terraforming Mars".

The term "applied planetology" has also been used in JBIS.

Red Cover Interstellar Issues

Between 1974 and 1991 the journal published a set of famous red cover issues which contained papers on the theme of interstellar travel and interstellar communications. These were known as the INTERSTELLAR STUDIES issues and at different times throughout their production were edited by Gerald Groves, J.Hardy and Anthony Martin. The issues coincided with the famous BIS Project Daedalus
Project Daedalus
Project Daedalus was a study conducted between 1973 and 1978 by the British Interplanetary Society to design a plausible unmanned interstellar spacecraft. Intended mainly as a scientific probe, the design criteria specified that the spacecraft had to use current or near-future technology and had to...

study which was conducted between 1973 and 1978. They represent a diverse range of papers covering the interstellar theme from studies of advanced propulsion, communication with extraterrestrial intelligence and the Fermi Paradox.


There have been many editors of JBIS throughout its history, including:
  • Philip E Cleator
  • J.Hardy
  • Gerald V Groves
  • Anthony R Martin
  • Mark Hempsell
  • Chris Toomer (the current and first female editor)

Current Editorial Team

  • Editor: Chris Toomer
  • Assistant Editor: Kelvin Long
  • Promotion Officer: Suszann Parry (BIS Executive Secretary)
  • Production Assistant: Ben Jones
  • Associate Editor: Stephen Gamble
  • Associate Editor: Mike Ashkenazi

Current International Advisory Board

  • Peter Bainum, Howard University, USA
  • Stephen Baxter, Science & Science Fiction Writer, UK
  • William I McLaughlin, Space Writer, formerly NASA JPL, USA
  • Charles S Cockell, Open University, UK
  • Kelvin Long, Tau Zero Foundation, UK (Subject Editor)
  • Mark Hempsell, Reaction Engines Ltd, UK (Subject Editor)
  • Richard Obousy, Richard Obousy Consulting LLC, USA (Subject Editor)
  • Salvatore Santoli, Research and Consulting Physical Chemist, Italy (Subject Editor)
  • Misha Shmatov, A.F.Ioffe Physical Technical Institute, St Petersburg, Russian (Subject Editor)
  • Paul H Shuch, Executive Director Emeritus, The SETI League Inc, USA (Subject Editor)
  • James Biggs, The University of Strathclyde, UK (Subject Editor)
  • Neil Taylor, University of Bristol, UK (Subject Editor)
  • Andreas C Tziolas, Variance Dynamical Corporation, USA (Subject Editor)
  • Chris Welch, Kingston University, UK (Subject Editor)
  • Rodney Buckland, Open University, UK (Subject Editor)

External links

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