Noted space artist Don Davis did all the illustrations in the first and second editions of The High Frontier

Here now is all of the artwork he created, giving us a vivid glimpse of the future envisioned by O’Neill.

All images copyright Don Davis

Approaching Island One
Approaching Island One. Mirrors collect sunlight for farms and shielded living areas. Foreground panels radiate waste heat.

The Robert Goddard
The Robert H. Goddard, a transfer ship, docks at Island One. Arriving passengers will float through transfer corridor, then walk down to normal gravity.

Workbench
NASA concept for early workbench in space.

Low orbit workshop
First normal-gravity habitat and workshop in space, for pilot-plant operations in low orbit.

Island One construction
Construction of Island One, seen past completed farm area.

Transport
Commutersphere used on short-distance daily trips.

Island Three
Island Three, with agricultural modules (small cylinders on ring) and zero-gravity industries (assemblage on end of cylinder).

Island Three farm modules
Sunlight paths in Island Three and in its external farm modules.

Island Three interior
Interior of Island Three; view from hillside toward valley.

Island Three mirrors
Island Three. Variable mirrors allow changing angle of sunlight during each day.

Sunflower habitat
Sunflower habitat, this one designed for Southwestern Desert landscape.

Island One village
Village in Island One.

MIT habitat design
M.I.T. class design for habitat with integral shielding.

Sunlight paths
Sunlight paths for M.I.T.-designed habitat.

Magnetic flight
Magnetic flight. Fast-moving magnet induces image poles in conducting surface, producing lifting force.

Sunflower geometry
Sunflower geometry. Light enters at equator; external wheel is for agriculture.

Sunflower light paths
Paths of light in Sunflower geometry.

human powered flight
Human-powered aircraft concept, for use in axial region in low gravity.

Model One
Shielded “Model One,” an early habitat design with farms in cylinder valleys, living areas in shielded end-caps.

sun in Model One
Sunlight paths in shielded “Model One.”

modular habitat
Modular habitat using shuttle external tank, for early rapid buildup of space manufacturing. Hydrogen tank is split into 7 levels, with each divided into 3 pie-wedge-shaped compartments, providing a total of 21 apartments for as many people.

Crystal Palace
Multiple-wheel “Crystal Palace” with cables to rotation axis gives maximum sunlit normal-gravity area for lowest mass.

multiple wheel geometry
Multiple wheel geometry. Used in Crystal Palace for living and farming areas, and in Island One farms.

Island One in scale
Island One, with the Queen Mary, Hindenburg, Empire State Building, Saturn 5, and Great Pyramid for scale.

Island One sunlight paths
Sunlight paths in Island One. The design goal is to admit sunlight into the interior without providing a straight-line path for cosmic rays past the radiation shielding. External screens permit separate day/night cycles in living and farm areas.

LaGrange points
The five Lagrange points of the Earth-Moon system. Inner circle is geosynchronous orbit; dashed circle is possible colony orbit.

LDEF
Shuttle places Long Duration Exposure Facility, seventy experiments to be left in Earth orbit for a year. (This particular vision became a reality in April of 1984. The LDEF was actually left in orbit closer to 6 years due to the intervening Challenger accident.)

Shuttle derived HLV
Launch of shuttle-derived heavy-lift vehicle (HLV). Large external tank carries all fuel for main engines.

lunar lander
Rocket-powered lander delivering equipment to lunar surface.

mass driver
Mass-driver: Current in drive coils makes magnetic field that pushes on currents in bucket coils, giving acceleration.

lunar mine
Lunar mine and mass-driver. Crew habitat and machinery tunnels covered by lunar soil for shielding.

working mass driver
High-acceleration working model of mass-driver.

lunar material to L2
Path of lunar material to second Lagrange point. This stream can almost be thought of as a “mass pipeline”.

mass driver payloads
Stream of payloads leaving lunar mass-driver. The payloads would probably be in the form of spheres of sintered lunar soil about the size of a softball.

Mass receiver at L2
Mass receiver at Lagrange point L2, beyond lunar farside. The receiver has its own mass-driver reaction engine, which it will use to propel the load from L2 to an Earth orbiting ore refinery.

workshop lunar orbit
Workshop in lunar orbit. Power supplied by solar-cell arrays.

separation
Moment of separation, as solid-rocket boosters drop from shuttle-derived freight vehicle to be recovered by parachute.

mass driver site
Possible site for lunar mass-driver, near boundary of mare and highland regions, for greater choice of minerals.

Island One cutaway
Cutaway view of Island One. Axial cylinder is air passage and corridor to docks and industries in zero gravity.

rectenna for SPS
Electricity from SPS ground antenna flows to regional grid day and night, in all weather.

rectenna cattle fields
Antenna is transparent to sunlight and rain, but absorbs microwaves, leaving fields below safe for cattle.

power satellites
Power satellites in twenty-four-hour orbit stay in constant sunshine above fixed point on Earth.

building power satellites
Assembling solar panel arrays and concentrating mirrors of power satellite.

SPS at Island One
Satellite power station, nearing completion at Island One. Central antenna sends power to receiver on Earth.

Cyclops
“Cyclops” is a SETI proposal for a vast intelligence-seeking radio telescope. This dish antenna, several kilometers across, was also built at Island One. Its metal shield blocks interference from Earth radios. Conventional wisdom is that such an extraterrestrial array should be built on the lunar farside, but this orbital dish offers the advantage of being freely pointable at any target at any time.

Night launch of shuttle
Night launch of shuttle. With solid boosters and main engines burning, Orbiter lifts through first cloud layer. It was hoped that the shuttle would be the workhorse of the high frontier, but we still await an Earth-to-orbit launch system offering the lowered lift costs originally promised for the shuttle.

The Robert Goddard
The Robert H. Goddard, a space-vessel for two thousand passengers. Mass-driver engine is powered by solar-cell arrays.

Island One farms
Orchards and farm buildings in agricultural areas of Island One.

R.H. Goddard deck
Deck layout of R. H. Goddard. Rotation gives Earth-normal gravity in lowest levels.

Asteroid recovery
Recovery of asteroidal chunks by twin-engine mass-driver tug.

Mining asteroid
Mining an asteroid for reaction mass.

homebuilt spacecraft
Homebuilt spacecraft carries family on homesteading voyage to the asteroids.

Lucky Lady
Cross-section through the Lucky Lady. To propose that a group of families here on the Earth’s surface might build their own space craft to fly them to the Asteroid Belt would be laughable. For a family already living in High Earth Orbit, it becomes a realistic possibility.

vapor deposition
Formation of strong metal sphere by vapor deposition in vacuum and zero gravity. Coated surfaces have a mirror-like finish. Another example of an industrial process impractical on the Earth’s surface, but practical in space. Such techniques may make the creation of the pressure vessels for orbital habitats much simpler and less labor-intensive than the kind of construction methods our Earth-bound experiences would suggest.

Island Two
Island Two habitat of the year 2100, mainly forested, gives refuge for endangered species.

Island One research town
Research town of Island One size, collecting faint sunlight, operates at the edge of the “continental shelf” beyond Pluto.

interstellar vessel OT
Unlike all else in “The High Frontier”, this drawing goes beyond near-term technology, depicts interstellar vessel (twenty-first and -second centuries).

Interstellar vessel OT2
Interstellar vessel of Island One size, ion-driven. Central arc substitutes for sunlight. Reaction of matter and antimatter gives power (twenty-first and -second centuries).

Hatbox
Crystal Palace or “Hatbox” gives maximum land area at normal gravity, for minimum mass of structure and shield.

sunlight paths crystal palace
Sunlight paths for Crystal Palace.

crystal palace habitat
Crystal Palace habitat; residential areas in sunlight.

Bernal sphere
Detail of Bernal sphere with size comparisons.

Torus interior
Torus interior.

Bernal Sphere diagram
Bernal Sphere (Island One) diagram (the central primary mirrors have been removed for clarity).

 

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