Movies about the red planet may be currently on the wane, but back in 1952, Mars still fascinated the general public. In August of that year, Major Alexander P. de Seversky imagined "Your Trip to Mars" for readers of Pageant magazine. "The date, while still somewhat hypothetical, is certainly well before the year 2000 A.D.," opined Seversky. He envisioned a "cigar-shaped vessel" powered by the "direct thrust" of an atomic-powered engine, traveling at a cruising speed of 1,660,000 miles an hour that would whisk sightseers to Mars in just 41 hours—and getting there was half the fun. Take a luxury cruise to outer space after the jump.
- It's all first-class seating! "Boarding the spaceship for Mars, we discover lounges and suites as luxuriously appointed as those on the 1952 Queen Elizabeth."
- They've got a liquor license! "Within two hours we note that we are traversing space at 150,000 m.p.h., but the fact, unimaginable to the earthbound of 1952, passes unnoticed by the bridge foursome in the corner and the barman unconcernedly mixing Martinis." Artificial gravity kept cards on the table and tipsy passengers from floating free.
- In the future, teenagers are boring! "An earth radio station furnishes a waltz and the younger passengers dance." Seversky's imagination ran the gamut where space technology was concerned, but he couldn't envision the birth of rock and roll just a few years hence. (Nor could he imagine the cut-rate, no frills air travel of today; his vision of spaceflight is based on the "comfort and luxuries of present-day airliners.")
- Tickets on sale soon! "Within the next half-century, perhaps within a generation, I firmly believe that the scenes I have just recounted at the Universal Spaceport and on the journey to Mars will be as commonplace as is the present overnight flight from New York to London."
Seversky was no babe in the woods when it came to aeronautics: he was an aviator, inventor, and author of the bestselling Victory Through Airpower (1942). While his prediction of a Universal Spaceport (or, closer to earth, atomic jet propulsion) hasn't come true yet, "Your Trip to Mars" also mentioned a "satellite large enough to provide an astronomic observatory, laboratory facilities and living quarters for a staff" serviced by winged "shuttle rockets," and warned against a competitive space race.