Ralph Andrew Smith

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Ralph Smith

R.A. Smith ca. 1947
Birth Name Ralph Andrew Smith
Birth Date 1905
Birth Place England
Date of Death Feb 4 1959
Place of Death England
Occupation Engineer, Artist, BIS Chairman
Nationality UK
Notable Works BIS Megaroc, "Exploration of the Moon"

R.A. Smith was born in 1905 and became interested in space flight as early as 1917. Smith became a pioneering member of the British Interplanetary Society and in the late 1930s through to the late 1950s his artistic skills illuminated the proposals of space engineers in the UK. Smith's painting are some of the most scientifically feasible and careful renderings from the period.

In 1937 the BIS moved its headquarters from Liverpool to Smith's home in Chingford before moving to another location in London. Smith became Organizing Secretary, Member of Council, Member of the Experimental Committee, and perhaps most importantly one of the driving forces behind the BIS Technical Committee which created the BIS lunar spacecraft design.

The BIS lunar spacecraft was unveiled to the public in January 1939 and it is almost certainly thanks to some of Smith's drawings and paintings that it garnered so much attention in the media.

During World War II Smith was hospitalized with tuberculosis for nearly two years but this did not detract from his consistent efforts to advance the cause of astronautics. He frequently wrote letters to newspapers and magazines, such as "Flight" and he was instrumental during the late years of the war in helping to reforge the splinters of the BIS.

In 1947 he was working in the Drawing Office of the Rocket Propulsion Establishment at Westcott. During that time he appeared on the BBC television program "Picture Page". He explained the role of the BIS and used illustrations to explain how to use staging for space exploration.

Many of his space paintings appeared in the book "Exploration of the Moon" which he illustrated for Arthur C. Clarke and was published in 1954.

Smith became Vice-Chairman of the BIS from 1953-56 and Chairman from 1956-57.

In August 1958 he suffered a stroke from which he didn't fully recover. He died on February 4 1959. Most of his original paintings now reside at BIS HQ in London.