An Account of the First Voyage of Aether Ship Jupiter II

Accomplished Anno Domini 1897

As related by the gallant voyagers themselves

And illustrated with numerous exclusive photographic plates

Published and Copyright 1899 by The American Journal of Science, Technology, Invention, and Innovation





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A modern miracle of engineering, technology, and courage! This is the voyage from Earth to Mars and back recently accomplished by Aether Ship Jupiter II and her little crew. On 16 October 1897, Jupiter II lifted off from an undisclosed location in the northeast United States and returned on 6 March 1898 with an amazing story to tell.

Who were these bold pioneers? How did they do it? A picture, it is said, is worth a thousand words, so we can do no better than to offer this photograph of the ship herself on the surface of the planet Mars. In the foreground can be seen the expedition’s ground conveyance, a standard Model C Studebaker Steam Chariot.


The ship herself is likewise operated by steam, which provides both direct propulsive force and the galvanic current necessary for a number of her systems.


The lower hull consists of much more metallic sheeting than the upper hull. This is mostly a new formulation of the wondrous gravity- neutralizing substance Cavorite, by which the English Professor Cavor made his earlier trip from the Earth to the Moon. Whereas the original formulation was activated simply by the opening and closing of shutters, this new material is activated by the application of a galvanic charge: thus, much more may be used, and more precisely.


Jupiter I was a much smaller test vehicle, capable of carrying only a two man crew for a day or so. She performed several test flights orbiting the terrestrial globe with pronounced success.


Cavorite itself is quite flimsy, and the hull, upper and lower, relies on sturdy mahogany for strength.


 Upper hull of Jupiter II, copper-bound mahogany, with iron rivets.



Upper hull showing emergency escape hatch.


An entirely new principle propels the Jupiter II through interplanetary space where there is no gravity for Cavorite to work against. As every child is taught in school, light propagates as a wave through the all-pervasive medium known as the luminiferous aether. Although so sublime a substance as to barely exist at all, exist it does, and research at various universities around the world discovered some simple physical characteristics which reacted against it: imagine, perhaps, the smallest, curving, cross-hatching possible, then imagine that a million times finer. The practical result is that the form of a ship’s propeller or screw, embossed with this pattern, can drive a vessel through interplanetary space by pushing against the aether in exactly the manner of an ordinary steamship moving through the oceans.


Jupiter II’s main propulsion array of four aether screws.




Two pairs of aether screws on the port and starboard sides provide for maneouvering capability.

This view also provides a good look at Jupiter II’s boiler assembly, with steam feed and return (condenser) lines clearly visible.


This is, so far, only a part of the marvel of modern science which is Aether Ship Jupiter II. But what of her crew? Who were the bold souls who dared to venture forth from this Earth, this Eden, to set foot on an entirely new world?

The mind and heart of the expedition belong to the renowned scientist and explorer, Professor John Robinson. His accomplishments at both Yale University and the University of Edinburgh are well known, and there is no need to rehearse them here. Along with the scientific advances, perhaps the most astonishing revelation of this expedition is that Professor Robinson was accompanied by his wife Maureen (who has herself earned some recognition in scientific circles for her studies in botany) and their daughter Judith (known affectionately by them as simply “Judy.”)


Professor John Robinson, center, his wife, Mrs. M. Robinson, left,

and daughter Judith, right.

On the surface of Mars.



Surely this feat may lay to rest any remaining doubts about the proper place of the weaker sex in society! Let this be a harbinger of the day when the woman may stand an equal to the man in all things, and even herald the right of the woman to vote!

Here, Prof. & Mrs. Robinson examine native flora:


Tall grasses with patches of small yellow and green flowers dot the Martian landscape, along with small scrub bushes and trees almost indistinguishable from terrestrial palms.


But the three Robinsons were hardly alone.

Chief among their crewmates was the pilot of the ship, Major Donald West.  Major West was a natural choice due to his experience with a number of experimental aircraft, particularly his service with the Royal Flying Corps during the Boer War, where he commanded the development and deployment of military dirigibles, sometimes known by their German name of Zeppelin.



Major West stands by the “astrogator” mechanism aboard Jupiter 2’s flight deck.

Once a course is set, it automatically navigates the aether ship through the vastness of space.




West and Robinson pose at the helm.




A few more views of the helm and command station.






Two little-known heroes of the engine room also accompanied the party, Chief Engineer Colin Glencannon, and Assistant James O’Reilly.


Chief Engineer Glencannon shows off his engine control room…


                                       …and demonstrates his technique on the throttle.              



Chief Glencannon is dapper in his “Dress Blues.” The coal scuttle is visible to the left.



A clear view of the control room.



Assistant O’Reilly demonstrates his masterful coal-shoveling technique.



The coal-feeder. Coal is shoveled in to the receptacle, where turning rotors feed it to the fireboxes of the boiler far below.


The final member of the party was a medical man, Dr. Zachary Smith. Dr. Smith earned no little distinction during the American Civil War with the Union Army (he dismisses as “scurrilous slander” reports that he also served the Confederacy, and indeed switched allegiances a number of times.) Here, Dr. Smith prepares to take the Studebaker Steam Chariot for a restful outing:



Not so fast, Dr. Smith! Prof. Robinson and Maj. West inspect the Chariot first to ensure it is “ready to roll.”





“She checks out. Green and go!” says Major West.


But a short ride in the hot, dry, Martian weather is enough for Dr. Smith. He returns quickly, and relaxes under a tree while the ladies fret about him and offer him something to drink.



Dr. Smith flirts with Judy! Or . . . is it the other way around?


But why is Dr. Smith aboard Jupiter II for this trip? To ensure the crew stay alive and to keep an eye on their good health while on an alien world? Yes, in part. But also for a more important reason.

Despite the incredible speeds at which an aether ship travels, a journey even to a relatively nearby planet takes a discouragingly long time, never mind to the stars which are considered as future destinations!

The food and air required for a crew of five or six would be nearly prohibitive. Thus, the idea that the crew might travel in a state of profound sleep, nigh unto death, or in some other condition which suspended the ordinary functions of the body normal to life. And from that idea came: the “freezing tubes.”



Following the well-known experiments of Luigi Galvani, in which the application of an “electric” (galvanic) charge was applied to the dead tissue of once–living creatures, resulting in the temporary appearance of life-like movements*, researchers at Miskatonic University in Massachusetts contemplated the possibility that the same galvanic force might suspend life for some indefinite time, until it was deliberately restored. Their end result: the “freezing tube.” A glass cylinder, insulated from outside influence, inside of which three galvanic plates are found: in scientific terminology, “positive,” “negative,” and “ground.” The subject stands on a metallic platform, the “ground,” appropriately. He then places left and right hands, respectively, on the “positive” and “negative” plates. A small galvanic current then runs through the subject’s body. Anyone who has ever experienced a mild galvanic charge accidentally applied through a copper wire may appreciate the slight paralysis which often accompanies this event. Consider then, the effect of a somewhat larger charge, deliberately applied! The entire body is so paralyzed, or “frozen.” All life activity is suspended under the effect of the galvanic fluid flowing through the body.


* Not to mention the thoroughly disreputable experiments of a certain Germano-Swiss doctor who shall remain ignominiously nameless, in which dead tissue was allegedly restored to monstrous life.



The Robinsons contemplate the freezing tubes which will preserve them in a state between life and death.


But there is one other consideration. All oxygen must be expired from the body, or else that substance will continue to exert its life-giving forces upon the inanimate body, and paradoxically cause irreparable harm . Therefore, the subject must breathe, for a few moments, an atmosphere free of oxygen to purge the body of that substance, an operation potentially even more hazardous. Thus, the ministrations of Dr. Smith.  Smith’s duty was to oversee the critical timing of the release of oxygen-free atmosphere into the freezing tubes and application of the galvanic flow, the reanimation of the rest of the crew once arrived near Mars, and the same process again for the return passage. Smith himself was required to remain awake, therefore, for the entire voyage. Once the reliability of the system is assured, it will be entirely automated for the inconceivably long flight to the stars.


Dr. Smith observes a freezing tube gauge with manual controls above.



Behind the tubes, the timing mechanism governing their release is visible.



Another view of the freezing tubes. Inert atmosphere cylinders visible behind.


Fortunately, release from the tubes is much simpler. The automated mechanism, activated after a prescribed period, floods the tube with normal air, just slightly enriched in oxygen content, at the same moment it severs the galvanic connection and releases the sealing mechanism on the tube doors.


Likewise, the engineering crew, Glencannon and O’Reilly, will be frozen in their own tubes on the lower deck. These are earlier designs and are operated purely manually. 


At the sides, the cylinders containing the inert atmosphere gasses are visible.


 To the left, the cylinders containing the compressed oxygen which will feed the combustion of the boiler engines in space.



But what of the time actually spent on Mars? Surely these good people didn’t live in freezing tubes!

Hardly. Although far from the accommodations provided by a good hotel or seafaring passenger liner, Jupiter II provides facilities which are more than adequate. Prof. & Mrs. Robinson admire here their quarters which were their home on Mars:



And daughter Judy enjoys a similar boudoir:



As commanding officer, Major West has a cabin which is more Spartan, but somewhat larger.


Nearly all furniture on board is crafted from the same mahogany which shapes the hull.


 Dr. Smith and the engineers share hammocks on the lower decks. These are ordinarily stowed away and no photographs are available.


Also on the lower decks, some of the finest modern luxuries followed our heroes to Mars!



Simple but adequate food preparation. There is an icebox next to the engines’ oxygen cylinders:



And a small table where meals may be taken, two or three at a time:


It was expected, of course, that most meals would be prepared and eaten outside on the surface of Mars.


And when finished with the lower deck’s facilities, a simple notch-type ladder provides access back up topside to the regular cabins.


Whoops! Careful going up that ladder, ladies!


As a farewell to our intrepid heroes of space, some final shots of Jupiter II’s main deck:




And a last farewell to the “Red Planet”:



A final word: in the wake of this triumphant voyage, rumors are afoot that the Robinsons will indeed make a return journey to Mars with the avowed intent of permanent settlement and colonization. If so, it is expected they will be accompanied in this by their younger daughter Penelope, who stayed on Earth with family during the first trip, and their infant son William, born since their return to Earth.

Godspeed Robinsons and Jupiter II alike if they do embark on this even more remarkable and historic mission and Major West too, if he is their pilot again. Remember Major, aim well for the red one, as there will be no Dr. Smith to awaken you if your course is off, and likely no second chances. You wouldn’t want to get lost in space!

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2 responses »

  1. m.d. carroll says:

    WOW! this is awesome! I’m blown away by the meticulous attention to detail. I have enjoyed this “history book”. it belongs in a museum. really. I’d love to see it up close. such a loving tribute to a bygone era that is now lost in space. salute!!!!!

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