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"Does it open a new horizon for my thinking? Does it lead me to think new kinds of thoughts, that I would not otherwise perhaps have thought at all? These qualities are what [make] science fiction ...unique."
- Frederik Pohl

Space Station One  
  Describes an early space station similar to the International Space Station, that grew over time by accretion.  

The Inner Station, “Space Station One” as it was usually called, was just over two thousand kilometres from Earth, circling the planet every two hours. It had been Man’s first stepping-stone to the stars, and though it was no longer technically necessary for spaceflight, its presence had a profound effect on the economics of interplanetary travel. All journeys to the Moon or the planets started from here; the unwieldy atomic ships floated alongside this outpost of Earth while the cargoes from the parent world were loaded into their holds.

A ferry service of chemically fuelled rockets linked the station to the planet beneath, for by law no atomic drive unit was allowed to operate within a thousand kilometres of the Earth’s surface. Even this safety margin was felt by many to be inadequate, for the radioactive blast of a nuclear propulsion unit could cover that distance in less than a minute.

Space Station One had grown with the passing years, by a process of accretion, until its original designers would never have recognised it. Around the central spherical core had accumulated observatories, communications labs with fantastic aerial systems, and mazes of scientific equipment which only a specialist could identify. But despite all these additions, the main function of the artificial moon was still that of refuelling the little ships with which Man was challenging the immense loneliness of the Solar System.

From The Sands of Mars, by Arthur C. Clarke.
Published by Sidgwick and Jackson in 1951
Additional resources -

As a space station, compare to the brick moon from The Brick Moon (1869) by Edward Everett Hale, the city of space from The Prince of Space (1931) by Jack Williamson, the New Moon Casino from One Against the Legion (1939) by Jack Williamson, the asteroid space station from Misfit (1939) by Robert Heinlein, the Venus Equilateral Relay Station from QRM - Interplanetary (1942) by George O. Smith, Wheelchair from Waldo (1942) by Robert Heinlein, the space transfer station from Between Planets (1951) by Robert Heinlein, the Sargasso Asteroid from The Stars My Destination (1956) by Alfred Bester, the tether space station from Tank Farm Dynamo (1983) by David Brin and the high orbit archipelago from Mona Lisa Overdrive (1988) by William Gibson.

Thanks to Project Rho for this item.

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Additional resources:
  More Ideas and Technology from The Sands of Mars
  More Ideas and Technology by Arthur C. Clarke
  Tech news articles related to The Sands of Mars
  Tech news articles related to works by Arthur C. Clarke

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