Information Research Publications Presentations
on the Human Exploration of Space
Astro Info Service Limited
E & OE
Having avidly followed the development of the space program as a hobby since the late 1960s and seen his first authored features appear in British Interplanetary Society publications from 1976, David J. ('Dave') Shayler created the Astro(naut) Info(rmation) Service (in its original guise) in October 1982. It was initially created to focus his research efforts and to collate and distribute the latest news on the growing number of people selected to train for space flights. This portfolio soon expanded to include other writing projects, outreach activities and cooperative research documenting the development of human space flight around the world. More than 40 years later, Astro Info Service Ltd continues to be the primary outlet for all work, commercial or otherwise, produced by David J. Shayler.
AIS PUBLICATIONS [Click Here]
To focus the production of written work, AIS Publications was created in October 1982 as an in-house publishing outlet. Inspired by Gordon Hooper's original privately produced (and duplicated) 1977 A5 book on the Soviet cosmonaut team, the idea of creating similar publications developed over the next few years.
The first privately produced AIS booklet, on the third NASA astronaut selection (1963) was published in 1982, followed by similar volumes on other NASA astronaut groups and the Soviet cosmonaut team throughout the 1980s and into the 1990s. The AIS publication schedule soon expanded to encompass other aspects of the human space flight programme, including a series of Space Shuttle-themed publications such as the annual Space Shuttle flight operations summaries, Shuttle EVA Reports and Shuttle data books (under the heading 'Shuttlenauts'). This first series of publications culminated in the subscription-based regular news magazines, ORBITER and ZENIT.
Orbiter began monthly publication in 1984 as a fanzine-type magazine devoted to the US Space Shuttle programme. It was supplemented by various 'special' editions and a series of CELESTIAL issues that focused upon what at that time was the Freedom Space Station programme, to be constructed by the Space Shuttle. Zenit began a year later, initially in bi-monthly format and edited by Neville Kidger. This magazine covered recent and historic developments in the Soviet and, latterly, Chinese space programmes. Both magazines, again with supplements, were published regularly through to 1992, with a one-off commemorative issue of Zenit being published in the spring of 2013.
There were other, short-lived projects in the 1980s, including a forerunner to both Orbiter and Zenit called Manned Space Flight News (MSFN), which was briefly trialled to cover the latest developments in both American and Soviet human spaceflight. This was followed by the Space Explorers Lexicon, a collectable system produced in cooperation with several international authors to record all the world's space explorers and missions. Sadly, this only yielded a single issue due to the complexities of pre-Internet global communications and coordination, but it did provide the basis for the subsequent successful AIS series of data cards and biographical reports.
In the 2000s, AIS publications expanded to include this range of collectable DATA CARDS on the world's space explorers and their missions, a product which proved highly popular with the general public, educational establishments and collectors. From 2014 until 2020, AIS also produced a series of seven collectable calendars featuring commemorative topics.
This expansion continued with the first titles in a series of publications aimed at a younger audience, under the generic heading JOURNEY. The first of this set of 12 titles, Journey into Space, was based on the popular AIS show-and-tell presentation 'At Home in Space'. The series was continued with the publication of Journey to the Moon (in time for the 50th anniversary of the Apollo missions) and Journey on the Space Shuttle, with more titles to follow.
From the 1980s, AIS began to issue its AUDIO series, starting with cassettes featuring highlights and special milestones of the early American missions from Mercury to the Shuttle programme. In the 2000s these were replaced by a collection of audio CDs, which in turn are due to be updated by direct MP3/MP4 downloads through our shop. The 1980s also saw the release of a series of Space Shuttle Photo Sets from each mission.
One of the most significant developments in the millennium was the creation of this website in May 2000 by Mike Shayler. The site continues to provide a range of reports and information on current and historic human space flight activities. The site is not intended to be a news source, but rather an accurate and informative source of reference incorporating data from a variety of worldwide sites. It is especially aimed at the enthusiast and younger generations who just wish to learn the stories behind the headlines, with appropriate links to reputable sources. The AIS website also acts as a shop window for additional Astro Info Service activities, publications and services, which are advertised on the site as they become available.
COMMERCIAL PUBLICATIONS [Click Here]
In the early 1980s, Dave began assisting publishers and other authors by providing information and images for commercially produced books. This naturally led to discussions with Dave to author titles himself and on to his first commercially authored books, with Ian Allan (2 titles), Salamander (1 title) and publications for younger readers through Hamlyn (1 title) and Egmont (1 title). From the late 1990s, Dave began to work with Praxis Books on a series of titles, published through Springer.
Naturally, there were many ideas and proposals which did not make it to publication, but which helped to develop other ideas and projects that did. Over the subsequent decades, Dave has authored or co-authored over 20 published titles with Springer-Praxis on aspects of American and Soviet/Russian human space flight, spacewalking, women's achievements in space and the prospect of human exploration of Mars. His portfolio was expanded with two titles (so far) from Apogee Books; one being the authorised biography of Skylab astronaut Jerry Carr and the second a cooperative book with NASA on the International Space Station.
This part of AIS continues to expand, with new titles under development and further publishers being sought. Mike Shayler has a long association with editorial work on AIS publications and books, as well as several joint authorship projects with Dave. This will continue as AIS ventures into the ebook market.
From the early 1970s, Dave provided a presentation programme to schools, social groups and enthusiasts on various aspects of human space flight. These presentations continued for over four decades. Regular anniversary presentations on the Apollo missions were second in popularity only to the school presentation AT HOME IN SPACE (which Dave subtitled 'Eating, Drinking, Going to the Toilet and Being Sick'). The Astro Info Service presentation service expanded into London, Kent and West Sussex and north into Yorkshire during 1999-2001.
This educational and outreach programme expanded rapidly at the turn of the millennium, supported by the Setpoint organisation. For example, our presentation to schools of At Home In Space was delivered to more than 5,000 children in the West Midlands alone in just three months during 2003. Other educational presentations under these agreements included Mission to the Moon, Our Earth in Space and Journey Around the Solar System, which were delivered to an ever-increasing number of pupils across all Key Stages. The popular annual Christmas in Space presentation also included explaining the seasons and how global festivities and personal celebrations are enjoyed away from the Earth. This work soon expanded across the Midlands, throughout Wales and into Bedfordshire, London, Yorkshire and Merseyside. In addition, our Space Workshop programme featured a series of hands-on experiments and science activities based around different aspects of human space flight missions, supporting the STEAM (Science Technology, Engineering, Art and Maths) initiative available to schools for over seven years from September 2003.
The outreach programme of AIS in the 2000s also included social groups, science fairs and other events in London, the Midlands, Bedfordshire, Yorkshire, Wales, Scotland and Ireland. In 2018, Dave was invited to Oslo, Norway, to present a paper on the assembly of the ISS, based on two of his books.
We also had the opportunity to host several presentations to schools in the Midlands and London, featuring former astronauts Joe Allen, Jerry Carr, Ed Gibson, Don Lind, Paul Weitz, Jack Lousma and Bill Thornton, as well as Russian cosmonauts Mikhail Tyurin and Yuri Lonchakov.
Dave attended the first Autographica Show, in Northampton in May 2000, featuring four former Apollo astronauts (Bean, Cunningham, Gordon and Mitchell). The second show in May 2001 was even bigger and better. This time there were eight former space explorers from the US and Russia. Dave and Astro Info Service helped to arrange the appearance of former Skylab astronauts - as well as their presentations - and shared the platform with former Shuttle commander Richard Searfoss. Astro Info Service also co-operated with publishers Springer-Praxis and Apogee Books to promote their recent releases from our stand, alongside our own range of publications and services.
The series of Autographica shows continued for over a decade in London and the Midlands, with AIS being represented at most of them. We also developed the series of guest presentations and Q&A sessions at the shows, which proved to be highly popular and well attended.
THE BRITISH INTERPLANETARY SOCIETY (BIS)
Dave has a long assiciation with the BIS, joining as a member in 1976 and subsequently rising to Fellow and also serving on its Council (2013-2019).
AIS also worked with the BIS on a number of cooperative projects, including the creation of a new BIS publication for schools (called Voyage and edited by Mike Shayler) between 2001 and 2005, and producinng CDs (also edited by Mike) including the History of Space Stations (2002) and an index of Spaceflight features (1956-2003).
Dave first attended the Soviet/Russian Technical Forum, held at the BIS HQ in London, in 1983 and has since regularly presented papers which subsequently appear in the Society's publications. For a decade from 2012, Dave was the coordinator and main chairperson for the annual Sino/Chinese Technical Forum.
In October 2002, AIS could be found on the BIS UK stand at the 2002 IAC show in Houston, Texas. We also attended in October 2003 in Bremen, Germany, this time on the UK Pavilion but with our own stand. Joint show work with the BIS in 2003 also included Astrofest in February and the British Festival of Space in Guildford in July.
In 2016, Dave was invited to be a guest editor for the BIS Space Chronicle Soviet/Chinese Supplement, continuing in this role for four years. In 2020, Dave became the third editor of the BIS space history magazine Space Chronicle, currently published four times a year in January, April, July and October.
MIDLAND SPACEFLIGHT SOCIETY (1990-2020)
For over 30 years, AIS maintained a close association with the Midland Spaceflight Society, with Dave being one of its founders and its sole President. The MSS was created by a local group of space flight enthusiasts who met on a regular basis to freely exchange information on human and robotic space flight. The driving force behind the MSS was Andy Salmon (1962-2013) and its regular magazine Capcom was edited by Michael Bryce.
Some of the earliest private publications by AIS, including the very first booklet on NASA's Group 3 astronauts (blue cover, top left)
The popular news magazines ORBITER and ZENIT, published regularly until 1992.
More recent AIS publications include our range of Data Cards and the Journey series of books for a younger audience.
Just some of the commercial publications written or co-written by Dave since the late 1980s. The books shown here are all from the Springer-Praxis range
Dave delivering one of his very popular presentations, at a Space Day in Droitwich, Worcestershire, in 2012.
Dave (centre) at the very first Autographica in Northampton in 2000, with former Apollo astronauts (l-r) Walt Cunningham, Dick Gordon, Ed Mitchell and Al Bean
Astro Info Service had its own stand as part of the UK area, at the 54th International Astronautical Congress in Bremen, Germany, in 2003.