I'd been dimly aware of the BIS Moonship for may years - R.A. Smiths wonderful images crop up in books from time to time, and of course David A. Hardy has produced some splendid and stylish illustrations. About 18 months ago, I had an enquiry from Kelvin Long, through Project Icarus, regarding the feasibility of producing a 3D model that could ultimately be sent to a 3D printer to make actual models. I set about gathering resources and references - Mark Stewart, the BIS librarian and Odyssey editor, proved invaluable here.
It took much longer than I anticipated due to may other projects and events intervening, but I eventually constructed a model which, I think, captures much of Smiths original vision. In my renderings,
I attempted to depict the HMSS 'Newton', shortly after landing, complete with 'Retronauts' in Smiths own design for the EVA suits. I've attempted to imagine how it would look if it were actually constructed – what materials would be used, how would it be fabricated, and so on.
My personal impression is that this is not the flimsy, tinfoil and duct-tape construction of the Apollo LEM, but something more like a Vulcan bomber – big chunks of metal, stoutly riveted – the kind of thing you could bang your fist on!
Of course, having a 3D model makes producing further illustrations relatively easy, so I envisage a series depicting the various stages of an entire mission at sometime in the future, and perhaps even that physical model.
However, the object of the exercise – producing illustrations of the BIS Moonship – will, I hope, bring this splendid concept to a wider audience and stimulate new interest in the work of the BIS, and the vision of R. A. Smith.