American writer Edward Everett Hale presented a concept for a manned satellite in a story published in the Atlantic Monthly after the Civil War. On "The Brick Moon" inhabitants signaled their friends on Earth by jumping up and down in Morse Code, who respondedby throwing thembooks and other objects, some of which missed their mark and went into orbit around the satellite.

Hermann Noordung was the first to outline detailed engineering theories behind a manned space satellite in his 1928 book Das Problem der Befahrung des Weltraums (The Problem of Space Travel). According to Noordung and Hermann Oberth, a Romanian scientist who coined the term "space station", parts for the outpost would be launched into space on Rockets.

In 1945, Wernher von Braun, a renowned German rockets engineer, came to the U.S. to build rockets for the U.S.Army. After the war, von Braun's work with Collier's magazin and Walt Disney Studios detailed a wheel- shaped Earth-observation post, which would serve as a laboratory and a spring board for Moon and Mars flight, serviced by reusable winged spacecraft.

In 1975, a summer study program at NASA/Ames Research Center yielded a wildly imaginative system for the colonization of space, and a convincing picture of how people might sustain large-scale permanent life in space.