The complete 1971 set of 'the Race into Space' collectors cards in the original album
My mum was clearing out her attic recently so I got to trawl through a load of stuff I’ve kept from childhood. I was delighted to come across this album, and to find that all the collectors cards were still in situ - over 40 years later. I still remember making my mum buy loads of Brooke Bond PG Tips tea so I could collect what to the 8 year old me were mesmerising images of our not too distant future…
This was so very early on in the era of space exploration. Neil Armstrong had only walked on the moon two years before, and the space shuttle was still in the earliest stages of planning. The page below shows what was envisioned then. Notice that the booster for the orbiter shuttle was itself a piloted craft which, having launched the orbiter, would have flown home. Very different to what finally flew, but somewhat reminiscent of the 747 that transported the retired shuttle recently, for example.
Space Shuttle Discovery DC Fly-Over, photograph courtesy of Nasa
But the pages that filled me with the most wonder were the confident predictions about moon bases and manned flights to Mars. Sadly, 40 years later, these scenarios remain as speculative as they were in 1971.