The Journal of the British Interplanetary Society (JBIS) is a technical scientific journal, first published in 1934. JBIS is concerned with space science and space technology. The journal is edited and published monthly in the United Kingdom by the British Interplanetary Society.
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 such 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 communications, extraterrestrial intelligence, philosophy and cosmology.
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:
In 1982, planetologist Christopher McKay was the first person to use the word terraforming in a published journal article in an article called "Terraforming Mars".
The term "applied planetology" has also been used in JBIS.
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 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.