See Carl Sagan’s Childhood Sketches of The Future of Space Travel

Carl Sagan had his first reli­gious expe­ri­ence at the age of five. Unsur­pris­ing­ly, it was root­ed in sci­ence. Sagan, then liv­ing in Brook­lyn, had start­ed pes­ter­ing every­one around him about what stars were, and had grown frus­trat­ed by his inabil­i­ty to get a straight answer. Like the resource­ful five-year-old that he was, the young Sagan took mat­ters into his own hands and pro­ceed­ed to the library:

“I went to the librar­i­an and asked for a book about stars … And the answer was stun­ning. It was that the Sun was a star but real­ly close. The stars were suns, but so far away they were just lit­tle points of light … The scale of the uni­verse sud­den­ly opened up to me. It was a kind of reli­gious expe­ri­ence. There was a mag­nif­i­cence to it, a grandeur, a scale which has nev­er left me. Nev­er ever left me.”

This sense of uni­ver­sal won­der would even­tu­al­ly lead Sagan to become a well-known astronomer and cos­mol­o­gist, as well as one of the 20th cen­tu­ry’s most beloved sci­ence edu­ca­tors. Although he passed away in 1996, aged 62, Sagan’s lega­cy remains alive and well. This March, a reboot of his famed 1980 PBS show, Comos: A Per­son­al Voy­age, will appear on Fox, with the equal­ly great sci­ence pop­u­lar­iz­er Neil DeGrasse Tyson tak­ing Sagan’s role as host. Mean­while, last Novem­ber saw the open­ing of the Carl Sagan and Ann Druyan Archive at the Library of Con­gress.

Among the papers in the archive was this sketch, titled “The Evo­lu­tion of Inter­stel­lar Flight,” which Sagan drew between the ages of 10 and 13. In the cen­ter of the draw­ing Sagan pen­cilled the  logo of Inter­stel­lar Space­lines, which, Sagan imag­ined, was “Estab­lished [in] 1967 for the advance­ment of transpa­cial and intrau­ni­ver­sal sci­ence.” Its mot­to? “Dis­cov­ery –Explo­ration – Col­o­niza­tion.” Sur­round­ing the logo, Sagan drew assort­ed news­pa­per clip­pings that he imag­ined could her­ald the key tech­no­log­i­cal advance­ments in the space race. Impres­sive­ly drawn astro­nauts in the cor­ner aside, I most enjoyed the faux-clip­ping that read “LIFE FOUND ON VENUS: Pre­his­toric-like rep­tiles are…” Good luck con­tain­ing your sense of won­der on see­ing that.

via F, Yeah Man­u­scripts!

Ilia Blin­d­er­man is a Mon­tre­al-based cul­ture and sci­ence writer. Fol­low him at @iliablinderman.

Relat­ed Con­tent:

Carl Sagan’s Under­grad Read­ing List: 40 Essen­tial Texts for a Well-Round­ed Thinker

Carl Sagan Presents Six Lec­tures on Earth, Mars & Our Solar Sys­tem … For Kids (1977)

Carl Sagan, Stephen Hawk­ing & Arthur C. Clarke Dis­cuss God, the Uni­verse, and Every­thing Else

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